Watch - How County Lines drug dealers target Essex youths
- Credit: Raygun / Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit
A new hard-hitting short film wants to educate the public about the dangers of County Lines drug gangs.
Filmed on location across greater Essex, the film Our County tells how drug deals are seen on the way home from school.
It also shines a spotlight on how gangs exploit, coerce and groom young people, who are used to move drugs around the county.
While the visuals are dramatised, the voiceover is the unedited, unfiltered words, language and stories of young people.
Commissioned by the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit, the films were initially used as a social media campaign to help young people develop an understanding of exploitation so they could spot the signs and walk away.
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The VVU is now sharing sharing the films to a wider, older, audience.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex and partners across greater Essex have been raising awareness of County Lines as a long term commitment.
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Roger Hirst, the PFCC for Essex, is also chair of the Violence and Vulnerability Round Table.
He said: “We have taken the real experiences of our Essex young people, their words and their stories, to produce a film which explains the dangers of these predatory drug gangs.”
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet of Essex Police said: “Hearing the real-life experiences of young people in Essex is sobering but also incredibly important.
"Our officers work with young people affected by gangs every day, steering them away from lifestyles that put them in danger, and putting the criminals who groom and exploit them behind bars.
“I want to thank the young people who took part in these films, for being brave in giving accounts of what life is like for them, and for giving a voice to others who may be too frightened to speak up.
“There are people who can help you and please don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council's deputy leader, said: “The more you are aware of County Lines and the lengths drug gangs will go to recruit young people, the more you can protect those you love.”
There is further information at www.essexcountylines.co.uk