County lines - Brighton & Hove's new priority

Tackling ‘county lines’ within the city is the new priority for Brighton & Hove’s Community Safety Partnership as stated in a new report going to the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities (NICE) committee on 22 January.

‘County Lines’ is a policing term used to describe a drug dealing tactic which involves urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines or ‘deal lines’.

The tactic usually begins with gangs establishing a ‘base’ for them to ‘run’ their drugs. This is typically done by taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults - a method referred to as ‘cuckooing’.

County lines is a major cross-cutting issue involving drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery and missing persons and can have devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities.

Putting it right1 resize.jpg

Police operations over the last few years have aimed to disrupt drug dealing in the city but the fast pace of the ‘industry’ and the demand means that new drug dealers quickly take the place of those who have been arrested.

“County lines is a particularly nasty crime as it preys on the young and vulnerable. The gangs operate here due to the high demand for drugs, and we’ve seen the significant impact it and the associated anti-social behaviour has on neighbourhoods” said Councillor Emma Daniel, chair of the NICE committee.

Chief Inspector Chris Veale of Sussex Police said: “We have robust working practices in the city for dealing with cuckooed homes, including gathering intelligence, executing drug warrants, closing premises quickly using ASB Act powers, supporting vulnerable and displaced residents, and taking direct action against perpetrators of crime.”

If you have any suspicions or information about drug dealing, please contact the police at any time online at or by calling 101, quoting Project Preclude.

The full report is available in the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities committee papers (agenda item 59)