Drug Crime

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:47 pm on 20th April 2022.

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Photo of Kit Malthouse Kit Malthouse The Minister of State, Home Department, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 4:47 pm, 20th April 2022

I am quite short of time, so I will not, if the hon. Member does not mind.

Our 10-year, whole-system strategy, which we are implementing, is a fundamental reset in our approach to tackling illegal drugs, which is what a number of Members have called for. We expect to see results, as do the public, and that is why we have set out clear and ambitious metrics to drive progress. Those cover a number of areas, including closing more than 2,000 county lines over the next three years, seeing a 20% increase in organised crime disruptions and preventing and reducing drug-related deaths.

Much of this debate has been about county lines, and it is worth reflecting on the despicable way in which those criminals exploit young people—as outlined by Ms Lyn Brown and my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley—recruiting them as runners to transport drugs and money around the country. We are clear that the targeting, grooming and exploitation of children for criminal purposes is deplorable, and we are committed to tackling it.

We will continue to invest in our successful county lines programme, which has resulted in more than 7,400 arrests and 1,500 line closures. Critically, more than 4,000 vulnerable people have been rescued from that horrific trade. We are also providing specialist support and funding to help young people who are subjected to, or concerned about, county lines exploitation, and to ensure that they get the protection and support they need.

We have been focused on dismantling the county lines model for well over two years and, as I have outlined, we have had real success. However, complacency is the enemy of progress, and we will continue to protect those most vulnerable and be clear to those gangs that we will keep coming at them again and again. On that note, I was pleased to hear that the Home Secretary visited the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley to discuss drugs and other matters.