Jon Masters 23 July 2015

Gangs using homeless children to expand drug lines warns report

Gangs using homeless children to expand drug lines warns report image

Children that have runaway or been declared missing are being used by gangs to expand inner city drug rings into county towns, according to a report by the Missing People charity and the Catch22 Dawes Unit.

Investigations drawing on research and interviews with young people have found that gangs are giving homeless children accommodation in provincial areas and then forcing them to sell drugs from houses for weeks at a time.

The new report details how young people who go missing are vulnerable to gang coercion and sexual exploitation, for reasons including debt and involvement in ‘drug lines’.

The report also provides practitioners and policy makers with advice on how to work more effectively to address the problem.

Catch22’s strategic director Frances Flaxington, said: ‘Similarly to those experiencing child sexual exploitation, the young people identified in this report are likely to be widely under-reported when missing and when they are reported, they often receive a criminal, rather than a safeguarding response.

'These are exceptionally vulnerable children and young people. They need specialist support services including strong and long-lasting relationships that help them open up and improve their lives.'

Ann Coffey MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Missing Children, said: 'Young people being groomed to sell drugs and being isolated from help is another example of how some of our most vulnerable children and young people fall into terrible danger when they go missing from home or care.

'These children must be seen as victims, not criminals. They are children being exploited by gangs to do their dirty work. It is minimal cost for maximum gain for the gangs. We must not fall into the same trap as we did in Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford where the victims of sexual exploitation were wrongly seen as making a "lifestyle choice".'

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Compliance Analyst

Essex County Council
£29772 - £35027 per annum
Compliance AnalystPermanent, Full TimeUp to £35,027 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Database Administrator

Essex County Council
£42000 - £49422 per annum
Senior Database AdministratorPermanent, Full TimeUp to £49,422 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Head of Air Quality Measurement

Imperial College London
£58,528 – £67,004
The Environmental Research Group (ERG), part of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London. Imperial College London, White City Campus, London W12 0BZ
Recuriter: Imperial College London

Childcare Lawyer

Brent Council
£43,860 - £49,827 p.a. inc.
We are looking for flexible individuals with good knowledge and experience in the   area of Children’s Social Care. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Cycle Training and Project Coordinator

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£33.324 - £35.751
We need a passionate person to manage the Royal Borough’s cycle training programme and develop new cycle training projects. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue