Tackling the criminal exploitation of vulnerable children and young people is a complex issue – many children and young people find their way into gang culture as a result of coercion, control and grooming by gang elders from ‘County Lines Gangs’, which are working on an estimated 2000 deal lines across the UK. Unfortunately, vulnerable children and young people, including those at-risk of exclusion, in pupil referral units (PRUs), or in care are acknowledged to be disproportionally vulnerable to being groomed. These risk-factors have only been heightened since the start of the pandemic, with multiple lockdowns and rise in poverty and economic deprivation making vulnerable young people more susceptible to exploitation than ever before.
Recognising the urgent need to take action, the Government has pledged £25m over the next two years to improve the law enforcement response to county lines and to increase specialist support for children, young people and their families who are affected. Additionally, the £22m Early Intervention Youth Fund is currently funding 10 projects aimed at addressing the criminal exploitation of vulnerable children and young people. Unfortunately, funding alone will not solve this problem – increased coordination and data sharing between local authorities and the police is crucial to have the tools to identify, safeguard and support vulnerable young people, who are already involved in or are at-risk of exploitation by county lines gangs.
This Policy Foresight live webinar offers a timely opportunity to understand the current national picture on county lines and child criminal exploitation (CCE). Participants will hear from expert speakers from the police, local authorities, third sector and other key statutory agencies. The webinar will explore innovative solutions to disrupt county lines gangs, enhance safeguarding frameworks and improve multi-agency working to proactively tackle the criminal exploitation of vulnerable children and young people during this pandemic and beyond.
Guidance - 12th February 2021: County Lines Exploitation: Applying All Our Health
Latest News - 8th March 2021: £130.5 million to tackle serious violence, murder and knife crime
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