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Home Office written question – answered on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Marie Rimmer Marie Rimmer Labour, St Helens South and Whiston

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to prevent the exploitation by county lines drug gangs of looked-after children placed out-of-borough.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

County lines have a devastating impact on our communities, and we are determined to crack down on these gangs and put an end to the exploitation of vulnerable children.

The National County Lines Co-ordination Centre (NCLCC), established with £3.6m of Home Office funding, has been vital to strengthening our response to this issue by enhancing the intelligence picture and enabling police forces to work together to tackle this complex, cross border threat. Since it became operational in September 2018 the NCLCC has coordinated four weeks of intensive law enforcement action resulting in over 2,500 arrests and over 3,000 individuals engaged for safeguarding.

The Home Office has also announced £25m of targeted investment across 2019/20 and 2020/21 to uplift the law enforcement response to county lines and increase the support available to children, young people and families that are affected.

In addition, the Government provides a range of support for county lines victims including: funding Young People’s Advocates in Birmingham, Manchester and London to provide help and support for young people exploited through county lines, and funding through the £13m Trusted Relationships fund to help foster relationships between frontline professionals and young people at risk of exploitation including county lines.

The needs of the child are paramount when deciding the right care placement and Local Authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that there is sufficient provision for their looked after children.

Lack of sufficient placements to meet young people’s needs can lead to children being placed out of area. The Government is helping to improve commissioning of placements, including providing funding through the Department for Education’s £200 million children’s social care Innovation Programme.

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