Kent project helped nearly a third of young people exit county lines exploitation in one year
31% of children and young people in Kent exited county lines activity within a year of receiving specialist support, according to an evaluation into St Giles Trust’s work in the county. A further 54% were in the process of exiting and at a decreased risk.
The evaluation, carried out by J H Consulting, looked at St Giles Trust’s casework with 38 young people helped by the one year pilot Home Office-funded project between September 17-18. Alongside county line activity reductions, other positive outcomes included employment, re-engagement in education, improved family relationships, reductions in episodes of children going missing and better physical and emotional health.
The first interim evaluation report into pilot, published in October 2018, looked at the initial six months of delivery. It found that all the children being supported were excluded from mainstream education. This has remained the case and this latest report recommends a review of the way in which mainstream and alternative education providers work with children who have challenging behaviour. It praises the way in which PRUs are trying to respond to the issue but says they are experiencing a number of difficulties including being able to provide a curriculum offer that meets children’s needs at the same time as meeting national requirements. The added support of St Giles Trust helped children transition back into both alternative and mainstream education with two young people successfully gaining GCSEs after a few months of the project’s support -“something that the children, their mothers and professionals hoped for but had seemed completely out of reach.”The caseload has continuously exceeded the maximum 30 and is now solely working with children local to Kent, confirming a trend of local recruitment into county lines. Under a recent cohort of referrals, it is supporting girls who are being used as drug mules and at risk of sexual exploitation.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner are now continuing funding for the work following the end of the pilot phase. £800,000 over three years has been given to enable St Giles Trust to deliver county lines interventions until spring 2022.
St Giles Trust Chief Executive Rob Owen OBE said:
“We are very grateful to Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott for continued funding of this work. The report clearly shows that with the right specialist care and support there is light at the end of the tunnel for those affected by county lines and we hope to bring our experience in helping those involved in them to other regions facing similar problems. It can be extremely challenging to leave a county line so the fact we were able to help 31% of the young people referred to us make a sustained exit within a year is a testament to the project’s impact and its further potential.”
“The high numbers of referrals suggest that there is significant unmet need for this type of work. It also shows that much more needs to be done to address some of the underlying issues which can act as push factors into county lines for vulnerable young people.”
The report also found that the project’s peer-led approach, training and using local people who had successfully overcome similar issues, was an important tool in both engaging young people and developing specialist services in this area in the county.