Children experiencing criminal exploitation 'continue to be let down'

By agency reporter
January 12, 2020

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services has published a report on how the police and National Crime Agency are tackling criminal exploitation of children through county lines. 

Responsing to the report, Mark Russell, Chief Executive at The Children’s Society, said: “Too many children experiencing horrific grooming and criminal exploitation through county lines continue to be let down by the frontline services best placed to protect them. These are children who may have been groomed with drugs, alcohol, or promises of status and wealth who then face the trauma of being coerced with terrifying threats, violence and sexual abuse to carry drugs around the country. 

“While we welcome these recommendations and the progress made by police in responding to this worrying situation, all agencies are still failing to consistently identify children at risk and share crucial information and young people too often  end up being treated as criminals rather recognised and supported as victims. 

“That’s why The Children’s Society is calling on the Government to define child criminal exploitation in law and introduce a national strategy backed up by the funding needed to help end the current postcode lottery and ensure a consistent response for all children affected from the police, councils and other agencies. 

“This strategy must ensure that the real criminals are brought to justice and that children get early help to prevent them falling prey to exploitation – and the support they desperately need to stay safe and recover where this has already sadly happened, including access to an independent advocate." 

For the purposes of the report, ‘county lines’ was defined as “…a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas [within the UK], using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of 'deal line'. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move [and store] the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons”

* Read the report here

* Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/

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

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