Ten thousand children and young people are now being exploited by ‘County Lines’ drugs gangs and forced to sell heroin and crack cocaine, according to the National Crime Agency.
I have been campaigning since 2015 to raise awareness of the use of vulnerable children in County Lines, which is the new grooming scandal.
We need to change attitudes. These young people are victims of grooming in the same way as those who were sexually exploited in places like Rotherham and Rochdale.
For years those girls were blamed for their own sexual exploitation and called prostitutes. Attitudes towards them changed and now we must stop blaming children and young people who are groomed by gangs and caught up in the brutal word of County Lines.
The BBCs Inside Out North West recently interviewed me following an investigation into county lines operations focusing on the shocking levels of violence and exploitation of children by criminal gangs.
In the clip below, I spoke about why we need to reassess how we view children who are criminally exploited by gangs. As well as myself, they talked to Merseyside Police, a former gang member who groomed children to sell drugs and a mother whose son was exploited by gangs.
The full programme is available to watch on BBC iPlayer for the next 27 days here.
Below is my interview with Radio 5 Live on June 28th 2018 about County Lines following ,Anne Longfield,the Children’s Commissioners report that 32,500 children aged ten-to-15 years old defined themselves as being in a gang.
I have previously raised my concerns in Parliament about vulnerable children being groomed by criminal gangs to sell and supply drugs in county lines operations by criminal gangs.
In December the All Party Parliamentary Group for runaway and missing children and adults heard that 80% of police forces had observed a rise in violent crime that was a result of the expansion of County Lines operations.