The Government has announced a package of new measures to tackle county lines drugs gangs.
Home secretary, Priti Patel, said £20m will be invested to help disrupt the county lines model.
As well as increasing the capability and capacity of the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre, the Government will also work with money service bureaus to tackle illicit finance.
There will also be investment in new technologies such as enhanced data analysis using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to disrupt county lines operations. British Transport Police teams will also now be based at railway stations that are key hubs for county lines drug trafficking.
Cllr Nickie Aiken, London Councils' executive member for Schools and Children's Services, said: ‘London is the epicentre of the county lines drug trade which extends, tentacle-like, across the country. The Home Secretary has rightly singled county lines out as a crime priority and the fresh funds for fighting this insidious form of organised crime are very welcome.
‘County lines gangs are manipulating, exploiting and abusing a generation of vulnerable youngsters across the capital. I want to see this investment used to bring London gangs to justice and create greater public awareness of this national crisis.’
The Children’s Society warned help for children must be at heart of action on county lines, and called for a national cross-government strategy to tackle this issue.
Chief executive Mark Russell said: ‘We welcome the Home Secretary’s recognition that children are being coerced and cynically exploited into carrying drugs and weapons by criminal groups, but the pledge of funding to tackle this worrying issue is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to tackle county lines.
‘While it’s vital that the police focus their efforts on disrupting this exploitation, apprehending the real ring-leaders and protecting communities, it’s also crucial that children get the help they need to stay safe.’
Paul Marinko looks at how local authorities are tackling the scourge of County Lines – and finds that the dexterity of gangs in adapting to agencies’ responses makes a ‘monumental task’ even harder (£).