Serious organised crime groups (SOCGs)

There is no legal definition of organised crime in England and Wales. In line with the Government Serious Organised Crime Strategy 2018, SOCGs are people who work together on a continuing basis in order to plan, coordinate and conduct serious crime. Organised crime is characterised by violence or the threat of violence, and by the use of bribery and corruption.


A relatively durable, predominately street-based group of young people who:

  • see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group, and
  • engage in a range of criminal activity and serious violence. The 2018 Government Serious Violence Strategy defines serious violence as: specific types of crime such as homicide, knife crime and gun crime. It includes areas of criminality where serious violence or its threat is inherent.

They may also have any or all of the following features:

  • identify with or lay a claim over territory
  • have some form of identifying structure feature
  • are in conflict with other, similar, gangs.

County Lines

The Government Serious Violence Strategy (2018) defines county lines as:

"A term used to describe Gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of 'deal line'. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons."

The National Crime Agency's County Lines and Drug Supply, Vulnerability and Harm Report (2018) identifies that sexual exploitation or abuse is also a feature of County Lines activity. This can take the form of grooming vulnerable girls and women or the threat or use of sexcal violence as a means of coercion or control.