Banks should check the accounts of young teenagers and flag up suspicious activity to police to help gather intelligence that could bust county lines, experts say.
Their report calls on banks to identify youths transferring unusual sums of money or withdrawing cash a long way from home as these could indicate involvement in county lines.
Hundreds of young and vulnerable people are being exploited and used as couriers in this kind of criminal operation, in which urban gangs move drugs to provincial towns and villages. There are about 600 county lines gangs operating in the UK, although the number is down from 2,000 two years ago partly because of increased enforcement opportunities during the pandemic.
The report by BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, which specialises in cybersecurity and fraud, outlines the profiles and behaviours of county lines drug runners to help banks to identify them. BAE emphasised that the information should be used as intelligence to investigate gang members higher up the chain, rather than criminalising youths who may have been coerced.
By Fiona Hamilton, August 20, 2021, published by The Times