Children as young as 12 are being put in danger by criminals who are taking advantage of how vulnerable these young people are. Criminal exploitation is also known as 'county lines' and is when gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs. Gangs are deliberately targeting vulnerable children – those who are homeless, living in care homes or trapped in poverty. These children are unsafe, unloved, or unable to cope, and the gangs take advantage of this. These gangs groom, threaten or trick children into trafficking their drugs for them. They might threaten a young person physically, or they might threaten the young person’s family members. The gangs might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation – it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status – but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter. However they become trapped in county lines, the young people involved feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the gangs want.
This could affect our students because we live in a ‘cross’ bordered area, within easy travelling distance of Southend and London.
Information for parents - https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/helping-children/county-lines-resources