2 Jun 2020

Natasha Chopra, Greater London Service Manager for The Children’s Society’s Disrupting Exploitation Programme, said: “Being exploited to deal drugs in county lines operations has a devastating impact upon young people and puts them at real risk of terrifying violence and trauma. 

“The criminals grooming them have not shut down their operations due to the lockdown but are instead adapting their tactics and young people we support have continued to go missing from home. 

“We welcome the Met’s progress in tackling the issue and their focus on going after those who are grooming vulnerable children. However, we know that some line-holders are themselves young people who are being exploited, or young adults who were previously groomed and felt pressured to try to rise through the ranks to survive. 

“That’s why it’s also crucial that children at risk are identified and offered early help, and that those who are already trapped in the cycle of exploitation are recognised as victims and offered support rather than criminalised. 

“We want the Government to introduce a national strategy to tackle child criminal exploitation, end the current postcode lottery when it comes to supporting young victims, and give all children who have been exploited access to an independent advocate who can ensure they get the help they need. 

“Many vulnerable children are still hidden from the view of professionals like social workers and teachers due to the current crisis, and we want social care and schools to work together consistently to ensure all have access to a trusted professional who can check on their well-being.” 

You can read more about the Met crackdown here. 

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