County Lines: Campaign launched in North Wales to support young people exploited by drugs gangs
A new campaign has been launched to highlight the rise of criminal gangs extending the reach of their activities in North Wales by exploiting vulnerable children and young people.
The charity Crimestoppers and the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones have come together to launch the campaign today.
The campaign coincides with the start of National Safeguarding Week, 12-16 November, with this year’s theme focusing on exploitation.
The so-called ‘County Lines’ model see’s organised crime groups often from cities such as Liverpool or Manchester establish a network between their urban hubs and county locations.
The County Lines terms comes from the dedicated mobile phone lines used to deal drugs in those locations targeted by drugs gangs.
North Wales is a particularly easy target for the OCG’s due to the regions proximity to major hubs and the logistical ease in which drugs can be ferried around, particularly by young drug runners who use the rail networks as the predominant mode of transport.
Young people are being coerced, groomed and threatened with violence to take part in illegal activity across North Wales.
Many of them feel they have no choice and struggle to find a way to escape from the hurt and harm they endure on a daily basis.
The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the issue, support young people through a range of partners in the community and encourage the public to speak up if they have any suspicions or information about County Lines.
Whilst the charity Crimestoppers will handle information given to them 100% anonymously, there will also be activity by police across the region to disrupt and arrest those who are involved.
(North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones)
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said: “
I am pleased to support this important new campaign to highlight the menace of the criminal gangs seeking to exploit children in their despicable activities as they seek new territories for their drug dealing networks.
“They exploit children and young people by coercing them into running Class A drugs, cash or weapons, not just here in north Wales but across the UK.
Getting to grips with this growing menace is one of my top priorities.”
Gary Murray, North West Regional Manager for the charity Crimestoppers, said:
“The exploitation of children and young people by these gangs is truly worrying. The victims are often too young and too troubled to be able to realise what is happening to them.
“Crimestoppers believes everyone has the right to feel safe from crime and we need your help to protect children and young people from exploitation. We won’t ask your name. Won’t judge. Just listen to what you know. When you hang up the phone or click `send’, you’re done.
“In over 30 years, our charity has always kept its promise that everyone who contacts us stays 100% anonymous. Always.”
The new campaign was launched at the Kaleidoscope Project in Wrexham, its CEO Martin Blakebrough said:
“County Lines threatens the wellbeing of our children, we have a duty to do all we can to protect them. We also need to be aware that the drugs they are forced to deal cause great harm to vulnerable adults and the communities they live in.”
If you have any information about those exploiting children and young people, Crimestoppers charity is here to help.
Call thier UK Contact Centre anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use our non-traceable online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
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