Greater Manchester

Criminal exploitation of children within or across county lines


The criminal exploitation of children and adults is an issue in Greater Manchester.

Criminal networks and gangs coerce their victims to:

  • Sell class A drugs
  • Commit violent offences
  • Commit arson
  • Store firearms
  • Hold & move money
  • Shoplift, beg and pick pockets


A common system is ‘County Lines’, where gangs and organised networks force victims to travel from urban areas to different locations to deliver drugs.

This is particularly prevalent in Greater Manchester and the victims are not always moved outside the area boundaries.

Who is at risk?

Whilst anyone can be at risk of modern slavery, victims of ‘County Lines’ are frequently children and young adults.

They are left for days in unfamiliar surroundings until they have sold all the drugs.

Victims are recruited and controlled through:

  • Deception
  • Intimidation
  • Violence and threats towards them and their families
  • Grooming
Drug trade illustration showing various types of narcotics

These young people could be missing from school, home or care. It is key to work with schools, youth centres, housing and drug services to raise awareness, identify those at risk of exploitation and communicate where to find help and support.

Exploitation can also take the form of ‘Cuckooing’. This involves perpetrators taking over victims’ homes to store drugs and firearms and run criminal activities.

'Trapped' Campaign

The ‘Trapped’ campaign was developed by Programme Challenger and it aims to raise awareness of all forms of criminal exploitation across Greater Manchester, in recognition that young people and vulnerable adults may feel ‘Trapped’ and need support to ‘find a way out’.

STOP THE TRAFFIK developed and implemented a social media campaign to support this initiative.

We used footage from the short film created by Programme Challenger with local communities and actors.  The post can be viewed here


If you are concerned you’ve witnessed trafficking activity it is important you report it to the appropriate organisation, so long as you feel that it is safe to do so.


If you are a young person and need help, contact Childline via phone or their website.

0800 1111



If you are worried about a young person, contact the NSPCC.

0808 800 5000



If you have information about a crime that you wish to report anonymously contact Crimestoppers

0800 555 111



For further information contact our Centre for Intelligence Led Prevention

[email protected]


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