No More Knives, by Christina Gabbitas is a new book which looks at five friends and how they become involved in county lines and knife crime.
The story covers the harsh reality of the plight of young people involved in county lines, including what they were expected to do to earn money for the gang, and how one friend is seriously hurt through knife crime.
The five friends become involved with situations that they had never experienced before, and it was very frightening for them, as it would be for any young person. But… because the leaders of the gangs portrayed the lifestyle as very glamorous, with lots of money to be made, and few consequences if they were ever to be caught by the Police, the friends jumped at the chance of making a little extra cash.
However, what the leaders told them was far from the truth. County lines reach into a dangerous underworld, and many young people are persuaded to join gangs through false pretenses.
County lines and knife crime, run hand in hand with each other, and can lead to serious criminal prosecution, and injury for anyone who gets involved. Tragically, the story ends with one of the friends in hospital as a victim of knife crime, and the rest of the friends taken to the police station for questioning.
No More Knives reflects something that is experienced by many children and young people in Wales. It highlights the dangers associated with becoming involved with county lines, and the violence that is experienced as result of joining this type of gang.
Check out the fabulous video by Christina Gabbitas
The laws in Wales
Laws in relation to crime are not devolved to Wales. Therefore, the laws that cover county line are made at a UK level.
The UK Governments definition of County Lines is provided by the Serious Violence Strategy (2018): “…a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas (within the UK), using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move (and store) the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) or weapons.”
Across the UK the ‘age of criminal responsibility’ (i.e. the age you can be charged with a crime) is just 10 years old. This means at 10 you are considered old enough to take responsibility for your actions.
County Lines covers a range of criminal offences, including:
- Offensive Weapons.
- Sexual Offences.
- Modern Slavery.
- Inchoate Offenses (Encouraging or assisting a criminal offence)
Some of the key laws which may apply if a young person engages in county lines activities are:
- Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
- Section 170 of the Customs and Excise Act 1979
- Modern Day Slavery Act 2015
Your rights in Wales
Since 1991, the UK Government has been a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and thus, as rights holders, children should be able to expect the UK Government to support the following;
- The right to be protected from exploitation and coerced into gangs (Article 36).
- The right to get medical help if you are injured through violence and knife crime (Article 39).
- The right to prison being the last resort as a consequence, to be placed within a prison just for children and young people, and to have contact with your family if you do go to prison (Article 37).
- The right to legal help and fair treatment. You should also be offered solutions so that you can get out of gang life, and away from knife crime so you can live safely (Article 40).
In Wales, the Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 goes a step further to ensure that children’s rights are protected under Welsh law, and adopts the UNCRC.
This means every child and young person in Wales has specific rights, which are called Articles. The Welsh Government is responsible for making sure that the rights of every child and young person within Wales are upheld. To make sure your rights are upheld, the Government have developed the Children’s Rights Impact Assessment to ensure they consider children’s rights when developing legislation.
If you are a young person in trouble with the police you can find out more about your rights here
If you would like to know more on your UNCRC rights in Wales, please click the link.
If you would like to find out more about the Author’s project on knife crime and county lines, please click the link.
About the Author
My name is Lorna, and I am a third year PhD student studying Social work and social care, and a youth worker. After my course, I hope to be able to work within Youth Offending, and Youth Criminal Justice.