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Tackling ‘County Lines’: developing a national strategy

St Christopher’s attended the All Party Parliamentary Group on Young Runaways and Missing Children and Adults on Monday 4 December focusing on tackling County Lines.

Pam Robinson, Regional Manager for East London, attended the APPG on behalf of St Christopher’s. The event was chaired by Anne Coffey MP and well attended by colleagues from local authorities, the police and the voluntary sector.

The meeting covered the scale of the county lines problem and the work currently taking place around the country. This was followed by a session on the role of law enforcement in safeguarding young people who are affected.

Care leavers are over represented in the numbers of children who are vulnerable to being exploited by criminals. St Christopher’s new Staying Close provision will help to address these concerns by keeping care leavers close to their support networks.

Children and young people in care placed outside their local area are at even higher risk, so there has been discussion about ways to provide more residential services closer to where young people live. This means they can maintain any positive relationships with their families, friends and communities, which will reduce their risk of isolation and prevent them from seeking support in the wrong places.

Attendees also saw a ten minute preview of County Lines, a Henry Blake feature film documenting how young people are groomed to run drugs and what authorities can do to extrapolate people from these circumstances. Everyone sat silently during the movie as the reality of what these young people face was clear to see. Watch the trailer to find out more.

St Christopher’s is in a good place to contribute as we are involved in preventative and early intervention work through both our Runaways service and residential care services.

Pam said: “County lines is becoming more, rather than less, commonplace. The aim is to work towards a national joint safeguarding response to protect children affected by county lines, similar to the response to tackling child sexual exploitation that we have seen in recent years.”

You can also hear St Christopher’s talking about county lines on BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 show​. Fabrizio, who manages our Runaways service,​ spoke about how children are sent far away from their homes and can be subject to threats of violence if they try to leave their exploiters.