1. ITV Report

Councils unwitting recruiters for county lines drugs gangs

Stockport MP Ann Coffey Credit: PA

A new report from a Parliamentary investigation, chaired by Stockport MP Ann Coffey, has found that local councils unwittingly acting as 'recruiting sergeants' for County Lines gangs

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults says that by sending vulnerable children to live miles away from home, councils are making them susceptible to approaches from drugs dealers and paedophiles.

Evidence submitted to the inquiry suggests thousands of children are being put at risk by being moved to children's homes up to 100 miles from where they live. They become isolated from friends, family and social workers.

The inquiry, supported by the Children's Society, heard that local authorities may be inadvertently opening up new 'County Lines' because relocating children who have been groomed to sell heroin and crack cocaine, can create opportunities for criminals to expand their reach into rural, quieter parts of the country.

It is a national scandal that local authorities are unwittingly becoming recruiting sergeants for County Lines drugs gangs by sending so many children miles away. It must stop.

Children are being systematically failed and placed in grave danger by the very professionals who are there to protect them.

By placing so many children out of area, councils are complicit in adding to the trauma of already neglected and abused children.

Our inquiry has shone a light into the shady twilight world of unregulated accommodation for children aged 16 and over, who become magnets for paedophiles and County Lines drugs gangs. This accommodation must be regulated and inspected.

– Ann Coffey, MP