A national response unit designed to offer local authorities tailored support to help children at risk of exploitation by criminal gangs is due to be launched next year.
Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said yesterday the new unit would help councils stop child sexual exploitation, trafficking, modern slavery and other attempts by criminals to take advantage of children who go missing from care or home.
The £2m unit, which will operate from 2019 up until 2022, will provide tailored support to local areas so they can respond effectively to safeguarding challenges and learn from what works.
‘Exploitation of children in any form is an abhorrent crime and it is deeply saddening that vulnerable children and young people are prey to criminals,’ said Ms. Zahawi.
‘They are often at risk of multiple threats outside of their family lives, such as child sexual exploitation, gangs and county lines, and the new national unit will help local areas protect them from these threats and get the right support so they have the chance to succeed in life.’
County lines is where children and young people are exploited by criminals and used to traffic drugs in rural areas.
Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, commented: ‘This Government is committed to protecting children from all forms of exploitation and abuse, be it from county lines, gang activity or sexual abuse.
‘This new unit, along with our £13m Trusted Relationships Fund and the Serious Violence Strategy, will provide vital support to children and help steer them away from destructive harms.’