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Reducing school exclusions key to tackling youth violence and criminal gang exploitation

Children as young as 10 are being dragged into criminal exploitation, county lines and gang activity, with school exclusion a major trigger for vulnerable young people. The children’s commissioner is calling for a reduction in school exclusions to be a key goal if we are to reduce levels of youth violence. Pete Henshaw reports


A “vast majority” of local authorities still do not have a grip on youth violence in their areas, with many not even tracking local school exclusions – a key risk factor for gang exploitation.

In 2019/20, 14,700 children were referred to children’s services with identified concerns about gangs – a disturbing rise of 124 per cent from 2016/17.

However, in a new report, the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has warned that 120,000 teenagers – one in 25 – are falling through gaps in the education and social care system and remain at greater risk of exploitation.

Children as young as 10 are still being dragged into criminal exploitation and county lines drug running activities, the report warns, yet a lack of national data and poor coordination between different agencies remains a significant problem.

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