Too many children and young people are growing up in a damaging combination of inequality and social exclusion, where they see a lack of opportunity within their lives.
As an organisation working with young people affected by exploitation and crime, Safer London sees daily the devastating impact this has on both individuals and communities. However, we believe that too often public reaction and media focus, with their emphasis on statistics, ‘gangs’ and offending behavior, overlook the complex issues which lie beneath.
There is no doubt that in some cases this negative environment means that a number of children and young people are vulnerable to being pressurised and groomed into criminal behaviour such as County Lines. We also believe that this is fuelling much of the increase in violence that we are witnessing across the country.
New figures released today by the Mayor of London, reveal that more than 4000 vulnerable young people from across London are being drawn into County Lines drug-trafficking activity.
In 2018 the Mayor launched the Rescue and Response pan London County Lines service to better understand and target County Lines, whilst providing support to the young people who are being exploited.
Our LGE Service, which supports young people affected by violence across London, is part of the delivery of Rescue and Response, providing one-to-one support to young men and women affected.
LGE were already working with young people seeking to distance themselves from the exploitation of drug debt bondage situations, however since being part of the delivery of Rescue and Response, we recognise the immense scale of the wider problem, how much younger those being targeted are and the impact on individuals and families.
Safer London Chief Executive Sherry Peck, said: “As an organisation we see this as a safeguarding issue and as such will require a collaborative multi agency approach to meet the support needs of those effected.”
“These issues are complex and deep rooted and will take many years to address.This highlights the need for an adequately resourced national strategy to effectively address a growing issue that affects communities not only in London, but across the country.”
People can make a referral to Rescue and Response here.
To learn more about the LGE service, including on how to make a referral, visit: https://saferlondon.org.uk/services/london-gang-exit/