Thousands of school children across Bedfordshire are getting a dramatic reminder about the dangers of exploitation by criminal gangs thanks to a new theatre production in schools. Image: Bedfordshire Police

‘County Lines’ charts the risks children and young people face from criminal gangs

A new theatre production is giving Bedfordshire school children a dramatic reminder about the dangers of exploitation by criminal gangs.

Alter Ego Creative Solutions is performing the play thanks to funding from Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway.

Titled ‘County Lines‘, the production charts the risks children and young people face from criminal gangs. Such as county lines drug dealing and other forms of criminal exploitation.

Performances started in March and around 15,000 children are expected to see the play by the time the run finishes in May.

A workshop following the show helps the students understand what a healthy relationship looks like, how the grooming process works and who to speak to for support.

“A powerful way to raise awareness around child criminal exploitation”

Commissioner Holloway said:

“We made sure that the theatre company worked with young people from Bedfordshire who’ve been caught up in knife carrying and gang membership themselves to make sure that it sounds as authentic as possible.

“There’s no point whatever in softening the reality or the message will be lost and I’m perfectly prepared for complaints if those watching the production never forget it. This isn’t some sort of poor Theatre in Education production. It’s the closest we can get to the dangers presented by those running county lines and recruiting children to do their dirty work for them.”

Richard Denton, children and young people development officer at Bedfordshire Police, said:

“We are very pleased to be working with Alter Ego, as theatre is such a powerful way to raise awareness around child criminal exploitation.

“We know that county lines drug dealing is intertwined with other criminal activity such as serious violence, child sexual exploitation and modern slavery. That’s why it is so important we continue to raise awareness and educate people about these dangers.”