New guidance from the Home Office and CrimeStoppers aims to help housing association staff identify and support vulnerable tenants.
Many housing associations will be familiar with the ‘county lines’ phenomenon, where urban drug dealing gangs move into rural towns and coastal communities and acquire property to use as a base. This includes property managed by housing associations.
The gangs generally coerce a vulnerable person, such as a drug user, or a person with mental or physical health problems, to allow them to use their property as a base. These vulnerable people are then further exploited by the gangs to sell drugs on their behalf.
The Home Office and CrimeStoppers have published new guidance to increase awareness among housing association staff of the signs that a tenant is a victim of these criminal gangs.
How to spot the signs of a vulnerable tenant
The signs that may indicate a vulnerable tenant has had their property taken over by a county lines gang are:
How to spot the signs of a vulnerable child
Staff may also encounter a vulnerable child in a house who is involved in county lines activity. They might exhibit some of these signs:
Guidance and support
The Home Office has produced a guidance booklet and posters to help housing management staff understand what county lines is and recognise the signs to spot potential victims. Staff should report any concerns to CrimeStoppers or in line with your organisation’s safeguarding policy.