'My safe little town isn't safe any more': the toll of the county lines drug trade
Sarah Marsh
The Guardian
September 7th, 2018

Sam has lived in the same English town his whole life, but recently a new craze has taken over his and other young people's lives in the area. It isn't the latest video game or fashion item, but rather teenagers in the region have increasingly been caught up in the county lines drug trade.

The practice, also known as "going country" or OT (out there), involves urban gangs moving class A drugs and cash between inner-city hubs and provincial areas. Young people are recruited by drug dealers who groom them and offer them money to sell drugs in rural areas.

Earlier this year a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on knife crime discussed the increase in local recruitment, saying it was a problem for areas not well-equipped to deal with London-style gang crime.

Simon Harding, a professor of criminology at the University of West London, said: "The way it used to work was that they would send up lads from London but they stood out like a sore thumb. Now they have switched to recruiting local people. Often people in these areas don't realise that these London boys play by different rules and if they threaten to stab you, they will do -- that is the end of it."

Sam, 16, is one of those local recruits. Sitting in his living room, playing with his dog and eating a McDonald's, he explains that the draw for young people like him, living in provincial towns, is money. "It seems to be the latest craze, it's been a phase for everyone ? those who get kicked out of school,? he says.
Read the full story here.