As part of a weeklong “county lines” awareness campaign, we are educating officers, staff, partners and the public about spotting the signs of this type of crime.
Take Tasha’s story. She was a child who went missing and returned home on many occasions. But what was she up to while missing?
Spot the signs and change the story. #SaferCambs
Here’s Tasha’s story…
I met Jamie about six months ago. He used to hang around the back of the school playing field at lunch and give me cigarettes. He’s generous like that, but then again I guess he can afford to be. I mean, come on, he has his own flat (well one he shares with that man) and have you seen his trainers?
Jamie is so nice, well he was at first. He was always telling me how beautiful I am and saying he wanted to spend more time with me. That’s why we started meeting up after school. It was so much fun but I had a curfew and had to be home at night.
Then one day Jamie suggested I moved in with him. I was so excited, how could I say no? He had his own flat and was earning good money. So I packed my bag and moved in.
That first weekend was great. No adults bossing me around. We had a house-warming party, drank vodka and I even tried a bit of cocaine. Nobody would miss me from my foster home. Well that’s what I thought. But I was wrong. The foster carers had called the police, who found me after a couple of days and returned me to my home.
But our love was strong and Jamie continued to meet me at lunch times and more often than not I wouldn’t bother going back to school in the afternoons. Nobody was going to stop me seeing him. Then he asked me to move in with him again. He said he needed some help with a big job and I could earn some money while I lived there. All I had to do was deliver a package to a flat, which was a short bus ride away. Well of course I was going to say yes, wasn’t I?
So I packed my bag again and after everybody had gone to bed I sneaked out.
I delivered the package. It wasn’t as simple as I had thought it would be as I had to hide the package, in my body, so nobody would find it, because if I got caught with it I would most definitely get in trouble with the police and it would cost Jamie a lot of money. This was because the package contained drugs. But I didn’t mind. I was being paid and it made Jamie happy.
Anyway, after a few days the police caught up with me again. Luckily I wasn’t carrying a package. But I did have the mobile phone Jamie gave me and £200 cash on me. Thankfully, I explained them away and the police just returned me to my foster home once again.
It’s so annoying when the police pick me up and return me home. Luckily, everybody is just so happy that I am ‘safe and well’ that they don’t really ask what I’ve been up to while I’ve been away.
I’ve run away loads of times now. Jamie’s got used to me being taken away from him. But it’s only ever for a few days and then we get to see each other again. We’re used to spending time apart because when I do deliveries for him I can be gone for a few days at a time, so it’s no different.
This time I may be away for a little longer than a few days and I don’t like my chances of running away much either as I don’t think the police will be returning me to my foster parents anytime soon.
That’s because this time they found me in a hotel room with £10,000 worth of heroin. I think I might be going to prison. I’m hoping Jamie will be able to sort it out. The police haven’t been able to get hold of him on the number I have for him yet. They say it’s been disconnected. But that can’t be right.
It’s been a few days now but I’m sure he will be in touch, won’t he?
Would you know how to spot the signs of drug dealing in your local community?
Would you know that someone was vulnerable to exploitation by drug dealers?
Here are some questions to consider:
- Have you seen something you think could be drug related but are not sure?
- Do you know someone who is being forced or asked to deal drugs?
- Do you know someone who is saying they have a drugs debt?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes you should call police on 101 or report it online at www.contactcambspolice.uk/Report/.You don’t need to give us your name. Just tell us what you know – even the smallest amount of information could be the piece of the puzzle we need. Calls can be dealt with anonymously. Or you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
If somebody is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always call 999.
You can find out more about county lines on our county lines web pages.
While this article is based on real life examples all characters and events in this story are fictional and have been created to deliver information about county lines criminality.