LANCASHIRE Police has pledged its support to a regional campaign that asks people to recognise the signs of child criminal exploitation by drugs gangs.

The Eyes Open campaign, which is also being supported by Merseyside Police and North Wales Police, was developed by Merseyside’s violence reduction partnership and co-ordinated regionally by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU).

Running across the three North West Police Forces, it highlights the lived experiences of young people who have fallen victim to county lines drug exploitation.

The campaign aims to change perceptions to highlight that young people involved with county lines activity are victims of grooming and to raise awareness of the help and support available for people who have concerns or need advice.

Det Chf Insp Becky Smith, from Lancashire Police, said: “By working together with other forces in the North West we are sending a strong message to criminals who exploit young people to run drugs, that this criminal activity will not be tolerated - regardless of where they choose to ‘do their business’ across the region.

“It is important to remember that any young person, regardless of race, age, gender or living arrangements, can be at risk of grooming by county lines criminals and it is happening here in Lancashire, but by us all keeping our eyes open and being more aware of the signs that a young person may be being groomed, we can work together to protect our young people.”

County lines is a business model which sees criminals exploit young people to run drugs across the county, into neighbouring counties and sometimes across the UK.

The ‘line’ refers to the mobile phone line set up by the criminal group to take drugs orders from customers, which young people are then asked to deliver.

Eyes Open has been developed with young people who have been victims of county lines grooming. The quotes that appear in the campaign are direct from these young victims and give a stark insight into the realities of the lived experience of county lines.

Posters and billboards will go up around Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales saying: “Know what to look for. Know who to help,” which will explain the signs of grooming that people need to look for and the real experiences from a youngster's point of view.

To find out more about the signs a young person may be being groomeds and for details of support or advice, visit