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To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to respond to the reports of criminal gangs grooming children for unlawful activity; and what extra protection is proposed for vulnerable groups of young children.
Tackling county lines and gang related child criminal exploitation is a priority for the Government.
Our Serious Violence Strategy, published last April, sets out a strong focus on early intervention and prevention, and is delivering a number of commitments to support children who are vulnerable to or caught up in gang activity. This includes supporting 29 projects in England and Wales through the £22m Early Intervention Youth Fund to deliver interventions to young people at risk of criminal involvement, gang exploitation and county lines.
The Government has provided £3.6m to establish the new National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC) to enhance our cross border intelligence and activity on county lines and to better safeguard and protect victims of county lines. Work is ongoing to protect the exploited and target the offenders, and in two separate weeks of operational intensification coordinated by the NCLCC there have been over 1,100 arrests and over 1,300 individuals safeguarded.
In addition, in October 2018 the Home Secretary also announced a new £200 million youth endowment fund to be delivered over 10 years which will support interventions with children and young people at risk of involvement in crime and violence.
We already work closely with organisations such as Redthread and the St Giles Trust, who intervene with young people at the “teachable moment” and we have provided funding to enable Redthread to carry out their youth violence interventions in London, Nottingham and Birmingham.
Tackling serious violence and protecting those vulnerable to it requires a multi-agency response. That is why we will shortly consult on a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach which will make preventing and tackling serous violence a top priority for key partners.
The Home Office is also working closely with the Department for Education to support young people excluded from school who are at risk of involvement in serious violence. In addition, the Department for Education are providing £2m for a new national response unit to be established and operate between 2019 and 2022. The new unit will provide bespoke support to local areas to help vulnerable children at risk of exploitation by criminal gangs.