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Drugs: Organised Crime

Home Office written question – answered on 17th March 2020.

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Photo of Bell Ribeiro-Addy Bell Ribeiro-Addy Labour, Streatham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps the Government plans to take to tackle sexual exploitation occurring as a result of county lines activity.

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

The Government recognises the devastating impact of county lines activity on children and vulnerable people which can include both sexual and criminal exploitation.

We are determined to disrupt these ruthless gangs and put an end to the exploitation associated with county lines. The Home Office has announced £25m of targeted investment over this year and next to uplift the law enforcement response to this exploitative model of drugs supply and to increase specialist support to children, young people and their families who are affected.

This is in addition to providing £3.6m to establish the new National County Lines Coordination Centre (NCLCC) in September 2018, which has significantly enhanced our cross-border intelligence and activity on county lines to better safeguard and protect victims of county lines. Work is ongoing to protect the exploited and target the offenders, and in four separate weeks of law enforcement intensification over 2,500 arrests have been made and over 3,000 vulnerable individuals have been engaged for safeguarding.

The Government provides a range of support for county lines victims including: funding Young People’s Advocates in Birmingham, Manchester and London to work directly with gang-affected women and girls, especially if they have been victims, or are at risk, of sexual violence by gangs including county lines; funding through the Trusted Relationships fund of £13 million to help foster relationships between frontline professionals and young people at risk of sexual exploitation including exploitation through county lines; and the £22m Early Intervention Youth Fund is funding 10 projects which will specifically address those at risk of involvement in county lines and criminal exploitation.

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