How the Pandemic has Impacted County Lines

The term ‘county lines’ describes how gangs and organised criminal networks transport illegal drugs. Drug dealers use designated mobile phone lines or other forms of ‘deal’ lines (such as transport links) to ensure the wide distribution of their substance in a short period of time

The UK has tried to crack down on county lines’ activities, with 1,100 arrested, 33 guns, 219 knives and 80 drug dealing phone lines identified in May 2021. In addition, 600kg of Cocaine and 17kg of heroin was seized. ​​

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in dealers switching to riskier distribution tactics as the fall of passenger numbers on trains now makes it difficult to hide suspicious behaviour. Young minors are increasingly being bullied or intimidated into becoming ‘runners’ as they are less likely to be stopped by police. 

County Lines start in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, and enable illegal substances to be distributed across the UK to smaller cities. These ‘lines’ can make drugs (primarily crack cocaine and heroin) accessible for the most remote areas of the country. Demand for Cocaine has steadily increased and has become the second most commonly used drug in England, just behind Cannabis. The usage of the drug has soared by almost 300% in the last decade. 

In the UK, a 2004 report on illegal drug use by workers by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 13% of working respondents reported use of illicit drugs in the previous 12 months, with the rate varying considerably with age from 3% for those aged 50 or more to 29% for those aged under 30. Drug consumption is becoming more prevalent in the workplace, and the risk of companies not identifying impaired members of staff is increasing. According to the findings of the 2014 crime survey for England and Wales, 8.8% of the working-age population has taken an illicit drug in the past year.

With the COVID-19 pandemic increasing the consumption of illegal drugs, it is important that businesses have a clear drug and alcohol policy for all their staff, that both protects the business and promotes the wellbeing of their employees. ​​

OdiliaClark focuses on impairment risk management and can offer specialist services tailored to your business requirements related. Our industry-leading experts offer a range of consulting services. Get in touch now for a free 15-minute consultation from one of our specialists today or join us for one of our webinars. 


This article was written by one of the OdiliaClark team. OdiliaClark is a specialist HR services company with over 30 years of combined experience in the space. OdiliaClark offers an independent drug and alcohol testing service using state-of-the-art Dräger equipment as used by the British Police and Fire Services.      

OdiliaClark’s consultants are fully trained and certified in carrying out impartial, digital drug testing for companies’ employees. They also offer a range of other services including policy writing, implementation and staff training services.         ​​

For more information on how Odilia Clark can help your business deal with these changes with a bespoke package designed for your business contact

Press Enter to Search