Almost 50 ‘missing’ young people rescued in project to protect them from drug gangs.
THE young people were being exploited to run drugs across the country, said West Midlands Police, which has teamed up with the St Giles Trust to tackle the problem.
St Giles’ team includes people who’ve previously been targeted by criminal gangs and have first-hand experience of what exploited young people are going through.
And in the last few weeks, 48 young people from the West Midlands – many of whom had been reported missing – have been rescued after being found in places as far afield as Bury, Merseyside and Scotland.
They have now been referred to St Giles for on-going support, alongside their families, in a bid to get their lives back on track.
detectives involved in the project are using intelligence gleaned through the process to identify and arrest people running ‘County Lines networks’ – where illegal drugs are transported across border – and using children to run them.
West Midlands Police’s lead for County Lines, Supt Rich Agar, said: “We’ve seen cases where vulnerable teenagers who’ve been reported missing have been found in suspicious circumstances many miles from the West Midlands.
“Recently children have been found in South Wales and other parts of the UK – and we believe they are being groomed to run drugs.
“Early intervention is really important to reach these children, offer them support and steer them away from crime and negative influences.
“Our St Giles partnership is doing just that. They have people with lived experience of what these young people are going through. They are well placed to guide these children to brighter futures – and help us gather vital intelligence against the drugs gangs.”
As part of their work, officers visit schools and speak to young people in children’s homes in a bid to keep vulnerable teenagers safe from the clutches of drugs gangs.
Detectives recently executed almost 40 warrants and arrested 64 people.
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