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Children at risk of gangs and violence to be given more support | UK News



Children at risk of being targeted by gangs or violent crime will be given extra support as part of a £2m government scheme.

Young people in England in danger of criminal or sexual exploitation will be given access to experts across education, health, social care, police and the voluntary sector.

The Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme aims to support children who could fall victim to threats such as gangs, county lines drug dealing, online grooming, sexual exploitation, trafficking or modern slavery.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Being safe at school and having a stable home life is the best form of protection for the children as they grow up – but we know that those who are the most vulnerable, are the most at risk of exploitation from those who want to take advantage of them.

“We are all united in cracking down on those who try to lead vulnerable young people down a dangerous path, and the threats they face are multiple and complex.

The exploitation of young and vulnerable people is of huge concern
Children are being used to traffic drugs around England’s countryside

“We must make sure that we work together and this new approach to better support teachers, police and health professionals will improve the expertise and guidance available to all those who care for and educate young people.”

To access the Department for Education (DfE) scheme, local councils must apply for support from the £2m scheme to tackle specific threats in their area.

The launch comes one day after the first meeting of a new ministerial taskforce on serious youth violence, which is chaired by the prime minister and was set up partially in response to the knife crime crisis.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) found a clear link between child sexual exploitation and the practise of using young people to traffic drugs in often rural regions, known as county lines.

In 2017 the agency found more than a third (35%) of police forces reported evidence of child sexual exploitation and county lines activity.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, chief constable Simon Bailey, said: “The grooming techniques now being used by county lines gangs are similar to what we see in online sexual exploitation of children.

“Often young people don’t see themselves as victims and are flattered by feeling part of a group and gifts, so they are less likely to speak to police.

“That’s why a joined up approach involving teachers, doctors, parents and others is crucial and this new programme will bring all our efforts together to help keep our young people safe.

“Child protection is a key policing priority and we will continue to do all we can to pursue and prosecute criminals who exploit the vulnerable.”

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