Drugs gangs warning
ALL children and young people are potential targets for ‘county lines’ drugs gangs, Sunderland’s children’s services boss has warned.
Speaking to councillors last week, Jill Colbert, who was appointed to run the troubled service earlier this year, warned it isn’t just those already considered ‘vulnerable’ who are at risk.
It is estimated as many as 46,000 children across the country could have been forced to take part in the so-called ‘county lines’ drug trade.
“We have very vulnerable young people who could be exploited by criminals and they’re the same young people who could be vulnerable to child sexual exploitation,” Colbert told Sunderland City Council’s Children, Education and Skills Scrutiny Committee. We shouldn’t see county lines as different to any other safeguarding activity.”
She added: “This is a very big issue, this is a threat to the safety of young people in Sunderland. In my experience [of previously working in Manchester], these were young people not known to social services and without pre-existing social difficulties.”
‘County lines’ is the term given to drug dealing by criminal gangs in small towns and rural areas across the UK.