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 Royal College of Psychiatrist’s invited me to speak at their ‘Stolen childhoods—gangs and grooming’ conference in London. While there I raised the importance of including young people in the co-designing of services that will later support exploited children.
For those interested my presentation is available here.
15th November 2018
Soaring numbers of incidents of children going missing from care to 70,250 last year are ‘truly shocking’, according to Ann Coffey MP.
Ms Coffey, who is the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said the latest figures released today by the Department for Education on Looked after children in England were ‘grim’.
There were 70,250 incidents of children going missing from care in 2018 involving 11,530 individual children – up almost 10,000 from 60,870 incidents last year.
Significantly, nearly half of the incidents involved children in residential care, which includes children’s homes.
The numbers of missing incidents of children in care has risen massively by 145 per cent since 2015 when the figure was 28,700.