Drugs: Organised Crime

Home Office written question – answered on 9th November 2021.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what plans she has to use diversion schemes and approaches to take people out of county lines involvement.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to work with other Cabinet colleagues to identify people vulnerable to county lines and ensure that pro-active steps are taken to prevent exploitation by county lines.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the Education Secretary on the link between children excluded from schools and their engagement with county lines.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to integrate her Department's work on the safety of women and girls and their exploitation by county lines.

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)

County lines gang activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities. That is why we launched our County Lines Programme in November 2019 with activity concentrated at targeting county line holders while appropriately safeguarding and supporting the vulnerable to exit their involvement.

This financial year we are providing up to £1m for specialist support to under 25s from London, the West Midlands and Merseyside who are criminally exploited through county lines, to help them safely reduce and exit their involvement, which includes supporting women and girls involved in this exploitation. We have also provided almost £400k of funding in 2021-22 for Young People’s Advocates who provide one-to-one support to young women and girls at risk of or experiencing all forms of exploitation by gangs. In 2020/21 they supported over 800 young women and girls.

The Home Office works closely with the Department for Education as we recognise that engagement in education is a powerful protective factor against children’s vulnerability and risk to involvement in county lines. The cross-Government Beating Crime Plan published in July this year (2021) announced an investment of over £45m in specialist support in both mainstream and Alternative Provision schools in serious violence hotspots to support young people at risk of involvement in violence to re-engage in education.

Finally, in July this year, the Government published a new and ambitious cross-Government Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy that sets out our ambition to prioritise prevention, support survivors, pursue perpetrators and create a stronger system, with an objective of reducing prevalence.

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