Home Office issues warning to landlords in latest stage of 'County lines' campaign

Landlords and letting agents across the country are being urged to look out for tell-tale signs that criminal gangs are renting from them, in a series of posters produced by the Home Office.

The Home Office has partnered the NLA for its new 'County lines' campaign
The Home Office has partnered the NLA for its new 'County lines' campaign

The new publicity materials are part of the Home Office's 'County lines' campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the threat posed by drug dealers expanding their operations into parts of the country outside major cities.

'County lines' is a term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns, using dedicated mobile phone lines and getting children and vulnerable people to courier drugs and money.

The crackdown against this form of crime is part of the government's wider bid to end criminal exploitation.

The National Landlords Association (NLA), UK Association of Letting Agents, and Crimestoppers are supporting the awareness campaign. The posters state: "Gangs involved in drug crime and child exploitation operate in rented property. Know the signs to spot."

They provide examples of indicators that tenants may not be law-abiding citizens. These include people offering to pay six months' rent in advance in cash; individuals who "appear affluent but want to rent an inexpensive property" and are unable to provide references from a previous landlord or employer; and tenants stopping landlords from inspecting their property.

A key message in the new posters is that "landlords and letting agents who have concerns that a prospective tenant might be involved in County Lines activity should report it to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111."

Gina Mortlock, digital marketing executive at the NLA, said: "While the Home Office is leading this campaign, we’re using our influence as the UK’s largest landlord association to inform our members, letting agents, and the wider landlord community of issues they may face and what they can do if they encounter any problems."

In addition, the NLA is promoting the campaign on its social-media channels and will be holding a webinar to help raise awareness.

Mortlock added: "We will be including content in our monthly e-newsletters, and have a feature in the Winter edition of our quarterly magazine, UK Landlord, which will be sent to every NLA member at the end of November."

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