What is the connection between County Lines and Music
Many of the views shared here are from our research conducted in the summer of 2019, focused on the thoughts and opinions of 200 young people.
WHAT IS COUNTY LINES
County lines is the organised criminal distribution of drugs from the big cities into smaller towns and rural areas using children and vulnerable people to ‘drug run’. typically 15 and 16, but sometimes younger, travel by coach, train, and taxi. With only a burner’, or disposable phone, often stolen, and a stash of drugs.
Criminal gangs build a base in a specific area, often by taking over the homes of vulnerable local adults by intimidation or violence in a method referred to as 'cuckooing' (see below). They then target vulnerable local children and adults to become involved in supplying drugs through the grooming process. When somebody is involved with a criminal gang, it's hard for them to leave.
Although cannabis is occasionally linked to the county lines organisations, it is harder drugs that provide the focus: heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines. The county lines gangs use standard business techniques to develop their trade. In a new area, they need to offer discounts, a consistent quality product, and make sure it's reliably delivered. The main county line gangs operate from London, Kent and Liverpool, but other groups work out of Reading, Birmingham, and Manchester.
The targeting of young people excluded from secondary schools is a major feature in the profile of 'county lines'. Increasingly, schools are excluding pupils for a wider range of behaviours and even if the exclusion is intended as temporary, there is little evidence of reintegration back into main stream education. The exclusion of these vulnerable young people from full time school, whether placing them on reduced timetables, putting in place home schooling arrangements, or removing them to Pupil Referral Units (PRU) exacerbates their vulnerability and increases the risk for being targeted by gangs for exploitation. In some areas, PRUs become the arena for gang rivalries which become dangerous for pupils and hard for staff to manage.
WHAT ARE THE CONNECTIONS
Many would claim that the content of popular songs among young people is a direct image of what's 'really' happening in their community. Many young people especially those we come across are drawn to the tales of their peers making the transition from nothing to something that can be misconstrued. For many young people who consume music created by drill artists who express ideas of drug trafficking, they recognise that there is a method to the madness, and they recognise that much of the songs used by artists are engineered to boast of sales and popularity. They also understand the view of the media and understand how they like to crop lines of songs and obliterate the text. However, the energy that protrudes from drill music can steer a sober mind the wrong way, which may leave many casting negative thoughts without understanding the actual plight.
Drug distribution association is something that has often confused a lot of people trying to gain an understanding of different musical cultures, particularly genres like drill, grime and hip hop. Many elders have asked us why young people sometimes brag about the volume of sales of different drugs.
One might argue that inspiration and constant reference to drug trafficking can be attributed to many factors of childhood education, especially when that child comes in age to understand the impact of movies and material-driven factions before understanding music culture. However, this doesn’t hide that fact that those genres do overly place emphasis on the constant involvement of the drug trade, whether it has aided their transition from nothing to something or been clearly visible in their community.
During the summer of 2019, when working on our MVC initiative, groups of young people from Westminster echoed the credo 'To gain respect, you must have amassed or sold a certain amount of drugs on the roads or in the countryside' when making a track. This highlights a direct correlation, as music is also used as a conveyor belt to reinforce this idea of consumer confidence, which provides the listener with a concise route to a fast and productive revenue stream if they jump on board. This constant message could break down family ethics and ultimately drive any young person into the 'field.'
During our research , we found that young people prefer to shop more and save less. They are most interested in new products and are most receptive to advertisement and promotional activities. Their parents see them as more specialised in items, and they have a stronger effect on their parents' purchases. Parents that are more materialistic appear to have children who are more materialistic.
The visual energy associated with a large proportion of music young people consume is primarily driven by endless scenes of materialism, such as designers, labels, luxury vehicles, properties and jewellery. This representation is 'The Dream' according to a firm percentage of our participants. The image depicted by music videos has included a fixed image filled with material needs that most young people in our group must have in order to find their lives to be 'successful.' Such routes seem difficult to achieve being a 'steady worker' making a minimum income with a respectful career, making it tempting to search for ways to procure materials.
The patience associated with enforcing the process of getting a job and managing a stable income is more difficult to sell with the existence of social media, which has made it easier for young people to see up close and personal watching artists on trips to jewellers splashing cash.
IS THERE ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT?
Can the narrative that surrounds this generation change? Superpowers, being recording institutions that invest and promote songs, e.g. drill, grime that are indicative difficulties in established cultures, will not stop as financial incentives are too hard to avoid. Especially for genres such as drill, which have generated millions of pounds over the last three years, and which have witnessed a lot of rappers charting among many of the 'top-flight' pop artists, even with the ability to tour and generate sustainable income that has helped them to achieve success.
In our opinion, the remedy is to create clear content that reflects the message of 'The Fight,' which teaches parents and key influences in broader communities on how to deter the lure of toxicity. Create visual and in-depth depictions that illustrate the weaknesses of 'why' young people join gangs, engage in aggressive activity and deal with drugs.