CRIMESTOPPERS has launched a campaign across Wales this week to highlight the dangers of young people being groomed and becoming involved in County Lines.

A new educational film has also been launched to show young people the dangers involved.

The charity is offering ways to help people identify those who are at risk of being groomed into a life of drug dealing, along with the associated physical and sexual violence.

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Crimestoppers is particularly worried as figures nationally show that gangs are increasingly targeting girls to traffic drugs or money as they are seen as less likely to be suspected of being involved.

There is also a rise in ‘cuckooing’, where a vulnerable person’s home is taken over by criminals and used as a base to operate their drug dealing from.

‘Sophie’s Story’ is a follow-up to the charity’s first specially commissioned film ‘Running the Lines’.

It focuses on the character Sophie, who is groomed, sexually exploited, and threatened by a member of an organised crime gang. It can be seen on the charity’s youth service website Fearless.org.

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Young people are often recruited by criminal gangs to pay off a drug debt, or in return for cash, alcohol, new trainers, bikes or most recently e-scooters.

The four-week national campaign highlights how organised criminal gangs target young people to find out their vulnerabilities.

A lifestyle is then sold before loyalty is tested, often through asking for favours and offering a sense of protection, which can then lead to those exploited being trapped through debt bondage, trafficking, isolation from family and friends and physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Any suspicions about organised drug gangs and victims can be reported to charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously by calling freephone 0800 555 111 at any time or by completing a secure online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org or Fearless.org for young people, where more can also be learnt about the warning signs of County Lines activity.

Fearless.org offers young people non-judgemental advice so they can make informed decisions about lifestyle choices and realise that they have an alternative option when reporting crime.

The film ‘Sophie’s Story’ can be seen here.

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