A HEREFORD secondary school has warned parents that drug dealers which are part of organised gangs might be exploiting their children.

Hereford Academy said it was aware county lines drug dealers, those who run illegal substances to other parts of the country, could be in the HR2 postcode area.

To run the drugs, the dealers often exploit children and vulnerable adults, and the Marlbrook Road school said it often happened without victims realising it.


Assistant headteacher and designated safeguarding lead David Edwards said the dealers are part of gangs and organised criminal networks which move drugs into other, mainly rural, areas by exploiting their victims.

He said: "Gang members may use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons to do this. We are clear that this is child exploitation."

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He added: "As a school we are working together with West Mercia Police and partners, including Herefordshire Children's Services, to prevent and spot signs of exploitation at the earliest opportunity.

"We are keen that parents, carers and pupils are also aware of county lines, know where to ask for more support if they are worried and know that you will be listened to and supported."

Hereford Times: The school is worried pupils could be being targetedThe school is worried pupils could be being targeted

The school, which has around 530 students, also warned about potential signs that children could be involved, such as returning home late, staying out all night or going missing, having new friends or contacts, being found in areas away from home or increasing drug use, or is found to have large amounts of drugs on the.

It added that other warning signs included being secretive, unexplained school absences, injuries, money, phones, clothes and jewellery, becoming more disruptive or aggressive and using sexual, drug-related or violent language parents would expect their kids to know.


It also said "looking particularly dishevelled" or having hotel cars or keys to unknown places could also be a sign.

Mr Edwards said parents should regularly check children's phones and ask them about friends' full names and homes.

Anyone with concerns should calmly speak to their child and can also speak to the school's pastoral care team.

Anyone with information about county lines drug dealing should tell police by ringing 101, or speak to independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously.

Help can also be sought from Childline, Addaction, Turning Point or Herefordshire Children's Services.