Daily Mail

Drugs gangs ‘use online gaming to recruit kids’

- By George Odling

COUNTY lines drugs gangs are recruiting youngsters through online gaming, offering tokens and gifts to win their trust, MPs were warned yesterday.

Children as young as seven are among the 27,000 in England used to run drugs for ruthless gangs, according to Johnny Bolderson, of social welfare campaign group Catch22. He warned that youngsters spending more time online leaves them vulnerable to recruiters.

‘Online gaming and social media is the foundation of online grooming,’ he told the Commons education select committee.

‘The pandemic pushed young people towards online gaming: exactly where exploiters and groomers want them to be.

‘They [gang members] are tapping into a world that parents just don’t understand.’

The warnings come as British Transport Police said it had seen messages sent by drug dealers to children asking ‘who wants to make £500 this weekend?’.

A survey of 1,500 boys aged between 13 and 19 commission­ed by the BTP found almost one in five knew someone who dealt or transporte­d drugs.

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