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.
21st November 2018
Below is a copy of the Hansard transcript for my recent adjournment debate in Westminster Hall.
OCTOBER 18, 2018
Manchester Crown Court in Minshull Street is one of the slowest courts in England and Wales for processing child sexual offences.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, and author of two reports on child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, said the six month long delays were ‘unacceptable’ and ‘torture for victims’.
She said the latest figures were very disappointing and called for urgent action to speed up the process for victims.
Ms Coffey asked the Ministry of Justice how long delays were for each of the 74 Crown Courts in the country for child sexual offences from when the case was first received by the Crown Court to the main hearing.
The Parliamentary Answer (avaliable here) revealed Minshull Street in Manchester had the seventh highest average waiting time in the country.