Tackling county lines. It's everyone's business.
VIOLENCE IS PREVENTABLE
We believe violence is preventable. We are here to help young people go knife free, make positive choices and stay out of situations which could lead to violence or exploitation.
We are not the police. While we work closely with them, you can speak to us in confidence and we will support you as best we can in whatever way you feel most comfortable.
Our staff are experts by experience. We have members of our team who have been in gangs, who have lost loved ones to knife crime and been victims of exploitation.
Please get in touch with us if you think we can help, whether it’s you or to help someone you know. We can tackle exploitation and protect the vulnerable, together.
GO KNIFE FREE
Research shows that 99 per cent of young people do not carry knives.
We know the reasons for carrying a knife can be complex.
Some people may carry it because they are scared. For protection. Or because they are involved in things like gangs or drug dealing.
The facts are that carrying a knife puts you at risk. At risk of getting in serious trouble with the police, or at risk of getting hurt yourself.
We do not judge anyone who carries a knife – but want to help you make the changes you need to go knife free.
You can start by getting rid of your weapon in one of these knife bins across the county.
Plus, you can get in touch with us or one of the other organisations in our VERU Village.
We are all here to support young people and put an end to violence and exploitation in Bedfordshire.
What is County lines?
Children are targeted by county lines gangs to sell drugs and carry weapons. Children not even in their teens yet have been targeted in Bedfordshire.
They can be sent across the country to sell drugs, travelling by train, bus or taxi.
These children may face extreme violence and intimidation as well as ‘debt bondage’, where gangs will arrange for the young runner to get robbed so they are in the gang’s debt.
County lines gangs are typically associated with gangs from urban areas sending exploited children to more rural areas.
Here in Bedfordshire, we have issues with children and young people from London in particular being sent here to sell drugs.
However, gangs based in the county are also grooming and exploiting young people who live here and sending them off to other areas.
While most child criminal exploitation victims are boys, girls are also targeted by these gangs to do things like hide weapons from the police.
Any young person can be exploited, either in person or online. Gangs are specifically targeting so-called ‘clear skin’ children who do not have a criminal record, so they will not draw attention.
spot the signs...
Where to get help...
We would encourage parents, carers and professionals who work with young people such as teachers to speak to the children and young people you know and download these great resources we have in Bedfordshire.