THOUSANDS of teenagers will be taught about the dangers of getting caught up with county lines drug gangs.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley has commissioned a theatre company to tour 130 schools across its region, including in Oxfordshire.

More than 15,000 children will watch the performance during its 13-week tour, including Year 9 pupils at The Oxford Academy in Littlemore yesterday.

Anthony Stansfeld, police and crime commissioner (PCC) for the Thames Valley, said: "We are delighted to have launched the theatre performances across the Thames Valley.

"Projects like this are really important to educate young people in our communities and give them any support they need early on, before any issues turn into lifelong problems.

"Preventative work in the first instance is imperative and can be the turning point for many young people."

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County lines dealing refers to big city drug gangs who expand into smaller towns and cities, often using violence to mark their new territory and recruiting vulnerable children to sell drugs.

Mr Stansfeld, who has watched the performance himself, said it also highlights other important issues including grooming and child sexual exploitation.

Applied theatre specialists AlterEgo Creative Solutions Ltd are staging the production, named County Lines, having been supported by the PCC's Early Intervention Youth Fund.

The tour started in September and runs until December 13, and additional sessions are being held for youngsters not in education, parents and professionals.

The PCC has also funded someone called a 'fearless worker', who will deliver workshops in schools and youth venues on topics such as drugs and knife crime.

Mr Stansfeld added: "All of this is taking place at the same time as ongoing work by a number of different providers, to reduce school exclusions and work intensively with young people already involved in gangs and other criminal activity.

"As part of the Early Intervention Youth Fund we’ve also focused on upskilling those working with young people, to ensure that they are able to give them the support that they need."

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More than 500 professionals across the Thames Valley have already attended gang awareness training delivered by Reach Every Generation, with more sessions scheduled between now and Christmas.

The County Lines play has already been seen by more than 100,000 thousand young people and thousands of professionals around the UK.

It follows a drug dealer named Dex, who grooms children into joining his criminal operation.

In a newsletter sent to parents, The Oxford Academy staff wrote: "With high profile cases around the country currently making the news on a regular basis, it is all of our duties to raise awareness of this subject.

"Councils, charities, support agencies, schools, parents and carers all need to engage with and acknowledge this issue in order to give young people the tools and knowledge they need to help keep themselves and their friends safe."