The countdown to the 2019 Rugby World Cup has started, and the Safer NPT Partnership is planning to use the tournament to help raise awareness of the issues surrounding County Lines.

They will be distributing free Rugby World Cup fixtures cards, which include dates, venues and times of matches, together with space to note the results of each match.

On the reverse of the card will be important information on County Lines, including an explanation of what County Lines is, how it can affect people, the signs to look out for and where to get help or report anything that you think might be cause for concern.

Councillor Leanne Jones, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Public Protection said: “County Lines is an emerging national issue that poses significant threat to communities and exploits the most vulnerable members of society. A multi-agency approach is being taken across Neath Port Talbot and Swansea in an effort to combat this threat. Raising awareness about County Lines plays an important part in this.

“We know that there is huge interest in the Rugby World Cup and will be giving away the cards free of charge. The only thing we ask in return is that anyone who picks one up takes a few minutes to read the important information about County Lines on the reverse.”

The pocket size fixtures cards will be available from libraries, council buildings and other public spaces around NPT from the week commencing Monday 16 September. They will also be available to download from the Safer NPT website

The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday 20 September in Japan. In light of the tournament’s popularity, it is anticipated that demand for the cards will be high and that this will be an affective way to spread important information about County Lines to a wide audience.

When an organised crime group or urban gang extends their drug dealing enterprise across county boundaries, it is known as running a ‘county line’. They move into local properties, through 'cuckooing', using coercion or force to intimidate a vulnerable resident to let them into their home. The property is then used as a base for their illegal activities.

Councillor Jones added: “Vulnerable people being exploited include children, drug users, sex workers, elderly people and people with mental illnesses. If you suspect drug dealing is taking place or you are concerned that a young person or vulnerable adult may have been targeted by an organised crime group, please report it.”

“You don’t have to be certain, just concerned!”

Anyone wishing to report suspected County Lines activity should contact South Wales Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. If someone is in immediate danger or a crime is taking place you should always dial 999.