‘Powerful display’ in Bicester well received by community

Performance CODE was brought to Bicester by The Mill Arts Centre, backed by the Thames Valley police and crime commissioner, who has pledged £900,000 to extend the Operation Deter Youth Programme.

CODE, which features parkour athletes and bike stunts on a specially constructed outdoor set, is delivered by the physical theatre and dance company, Justice in Motion, who use their platform to raise awareness of societal issues.

Oxford Mail: CODE performance in BicesterCODE performance in Bicester (Image: Michael Lynch)

The performance told the story of the county lines drug trade, where youngsters are lured into the world of drug distribution.

The term county lines is used to refer to the establishment of mobile phone communications to orchestrate a drug trafficking business.

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The narrative has been created by Sheffield-based artist, rapper, and actor, Marcus ‘Matic Mouth’ Smith.

The show was performed at the Whitelands Academy on Saturday (June 1) and at The Market Square on Sunday (June 2).

Oxford Mail: CODE performance in BicesterCODE performance in Bicester (Image: Michael Lynch)

The community have shared their thoughts on the performance on Facebook. 

One commenter said: “Your show was simply brilliant, amazing acting, awesome stunts and poignant story we all need to see and hear.

“Thank you for coming to Bicester.”

Another praised the show: “All I can say is wow, what a powerful display.

“I recommend anyone with children between the age seven and 18 should definitely go see it.

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“It was absolutely incredible highlighting the problems our young children may face on the streets today – massive well done to all involved,” said another.

Councillor Nick Cotter said: “It was a brilliant production with a message put over with care and compassion. Well done CODE.”

Other comments included: “Very powerful and excellent performances“ and “It was amazing, powerful and emotional at the same time.”

Oxford Mail: CODE performance in BicesterCODE performance in Bicester (Image: Michael Lynch)

The CODE tour is aiming to heighten awareness, unveil the signs of youth exploitation and teach audiences, families, carers, and educators to identify potential problems.

The show also intends to promote the CODE app – a digital resource offering information on county lines, including ways to tap into support such as websites and agencies.

The show has been supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Anchor Foundation, and support from 101, Outdoor Arts Creation Space, Oxford City Council and Transend Skatepark.

READ MORE: Abingdon teen takes her own life after cheating allegation

Oxford Mail: CODE performance in BicesterCODE performance in Bicester (Image: Michael Lynch)

Law enforcement departments across the country have made significant strides in combating county lines, arresting more than 15,500 individuals and closing more than 5,000 lines since the government’s County Lines Programme was launched in 2019.

In December 2023 it was announced more than 2,000 lines had been closed across the country throughout the year, surpassing the target set for completion by March 2025.



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