Home Office proposals to stamp out child grooming and cross county forced drug dealing

ITV News has been leaked details of how the government plans to get a grip on the growing problem of children being forced to sell drugs.

We previously revealed how children as young as 12 are being ruthlessly groomed by older gang leaders to sell cocaine and heroin.

They are being exploited by organised crime groups who send them the length and breadth of the country to carry drugs and money.

All too often it is the children who are arrested - not the criminals exploiting them.

Police forces are struggling to tackle criminals who are headquartered hundreds of miles away.

Of these, 207 missing trafficked or unaccompanied children had not been found.

No one has been prosecuted for the criminal exploitation of British children.

No one has been successfully prosecuted for the criminal exploitation of children born and living in Britain.

The leaked memo details how the government departments will come together to draw up a national plan.

Proposals include:

  • Improved information sharing between police forces in big cities and rural areas

  • A national database for missing people

  • Using modern slavery legislation to jail gang leaders

  • New laws to close down gang leaders mobile phone lines

Former gang member Gwenton Sloley said the new proposals were an example of "two steps forward and four steps back".

He said shutting down phone networks wouldn't work as the gang leaders would just buy another sim card.

He said many police officers need "more joined up work" and more training.

Ann Coffey MP said prevention would work better than prosecution and the importance should be focused on stopping the child from becoming embedded in the gang in the first place.

A former senior police officer who dealt with child exploitation said Britain needs a new law to prosecute these criminals.