Welcome focus on 'county lines' in government Serious Violence Strategy

By agency reporter
April 10, 2018

The Children's Society has responded to measures to tackle ‘county lines’ criminal exploitation in the government’s Serious Violence Strategy.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “No young person should lose their life to violence or live in fear of crime. This strategy is urgently needed, and we welcome the government’s focus on tackling the scourge of ‘county lines’ criminal exploitation.

“The stories we have heard from young victims of criminal exploitation are heartbreaking – from the threats, violence and sexual abuse used to control them, to the frightening situations they face when they are forced to travel far from home to sell drugs to dangerous adults. Too often, we have seen these young victims being criminalised when they should be recognised as victims of trafficking.

“The creation of the new National County Lines Coordination Centre is an important step forward in providing vital intelligence to help police combat criminal exploitation and identify and support victims. However this problem cannot be solved by the police alone, and the strategy rightly recognises that concerted efforts are needed from all services and professionals working with young people to protect children at risk.

“Young people themselves also need to be aware of the dangers of grooming and exploitation. As part of its proposed awareness campaign, the government should include criminal exploitation in relationships and sex education, to make sure this vital message reaches all young people.

“Much more still needs to be done to address the root causes of criminal exploitation – poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity are leaving these young people vulnerable to grooming by organised criminal gangs who ruthlessly exploit feelings of isolation and hopelessness. While the government’s recognition of the importance of early intervention is welcome, this is a huge problem that requires significant, long term investment across the country if we are to stop criminal exploitation devastating young lives.”

* The Children's Society https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/

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