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A report launched today (19 September 2019) has revealed the true extent of county lines exploitation in London.
Data from the first year of the Mayor of London supported Rescue and Response Project has identified that 4,013 children and young people in London were involved in or suspected to be involved in exportation of drugs from London to other towns and cities over a period from January 2018 to April 2019.
St Giles has been working as part of the multi-agency Rescue and Response Project to support boys and young men exploited through county lines and help them to safety. Led by a coalition of the London boroughs of Brent, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets, we are working in partnership with Abianda who offer support to girls and young women affected and Safer London.
Out of the 568 cases referred to Rescue and Response over the first year, St Giles have received 167 cases and rescued a significant number of young people who were in high risk situations to ensure their safety. One example includes a teenage boy who get involved with a county line to escape his home life. The St Giles caseworker built trust with the young man and arranged for him to have the professional help he needed to improve his situation and build his confidence. Over time, he reduced his cannabis use, improved his physical and mental wellbeing and enrolled on an apprenticeship. The young man is now free from county line exploitation and his parent is also being helped by another St Giles project helping vulnerable adults with multiple and complex needs.
Evan Jones, Head of Child Criminal Exploitation at St Giles, said: “We really welcome the fact that the Mayor has given us the opportunity to help some of the most vulnerable young people in the capital as part of the Rescue and Response partnership. The high number of referrals shows that there previously wasn't the right support available for these young people, we now have some referrals on a waiting list so more capacity is urgently needed.
“However, many young people who were heavily involved in county lines activity have now thankfully got their young lives back with the help of Rescue and Response. We hope to continue this work in London and on a wider scale until we have fully addressed county lines exploitation and ensured children and young people at risk are kept safe and get the futures they deserve.”