Organised criminal gangs have been driven online to obtain new sources of money, because their usual activities of transporting drugs & committing robberies have become nearly impossible, a chief constable has commented.

County Lines

‘County-lines’ criminals & organised gangs have found the relatively low risk-high reward of cyber-crime when compared to, for example, “using a shotgun to rob a bank” explains Peter Goodman, Chief Constable for the Derbyshire Constabulary, National Lead for Cyber Crime & for Serious & Organised Crime, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

Goodman made this stark comparison whilst he briefed the Security Awareness Special Interest Group (SASIG) this week. He updated the cyber-security community, providing his unique insight on world-wide new trends in cyber-crime, & in policing matters during the Covid-19 crisis.


“We’ve seen that traditional criminality, particularly organised criminality, turning their hand to the digital world in a way that they haven’t before. We always knew that at some point organised crime would start to understand that crime over the internet, cyber-enabled, cyber- dependent crime, is a lot less risky and the rewards are a lot greater than going across the pavement with a shotgun and breaking into a bank.” Police have believed for a while that these gangs would eventually move more fully online to look for easy pickings & of illegal cash.

“We kind of knew organised crime would turn their hand to that, & indeed some had done so already. We’ve got some substantive evidence that more & more are using it as a means of making money during the course of the crisis,” Goodman observed.


“Whether it be phishing email campaigns, selling hoax protective equipment or a ‘cure’ to Covid-19, all kinds of scams are out there online. Some are cyber-dependant; some are just scams taking place over the internet.

“But we’ve got a really good insight into organised criminals who are using these methods either as a temporary means of carrying out their business or as a permanent change of methodology going forward.”


“If you are a county-lines criminal, if you are an organised criminal who has a group of vulnerable people who you are using to deliver and transport and make available drugs throughout the country, that’s pretty difficult when the transport infrastructure isn’t working as it was before. But the organised criminals still want & need the money & they will use whatever means possible. So, we have seen a move online.”


It is known that at least one person has been found & arrested in Manchester as part of a criminal investigation, for attempting to use a Covid-19 linked NHS attack

“We have also seen interesting international trends during this period of time that may mean state enablement of state permitted activity may change in nature in the future as well.”

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