4 Oct 2018

Commenting after Zakaria Mohammed from Birmingham was sentenced to 14 years in prison after exploiting children who he used to run a ‘county lines’ drug dealing operation between Birmingham and Lincoln, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

“This conviction under the Modern Slavery Act sends out a clear signal that children under the control of so called ‘county lines’ drugs gangs are not criminals, but victims of criminal exploitation and trafficking.

“These gangs groom children with drugs and alcohol or promises of status and wealth, and control them using terrifying threats, violence and sexual abuse.

“We work with children who have gone missing from home or care, sometimes for weeks on end, at the mercy of gangs who see these vulnerable children as pawns in their crimes. That’s why when a child is reported missing from home or care they should be assessed to see if they’re at risk of being exploited by these gangs and professionals must get better at spotting the signs and ensuring these children get help at a much earlier stage.

“We would also urge the government to speed up the introduction of its promised missing persons database so that the information about the risks to children found far from home can be shared across police borders.”

For more information about the issue of county lines drug dealing operations visit our web page https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-is-county-lines

Media enquiries

For more information, please contact Senior Media Officer Rob Devey on 07814 525918 or rob.devey@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editor

The Children’s Society is a national charity that works with the most vulnerable children and young people in Britain today. We listen. We support. We act. Because no child should feel alone.