Urgent need to improve our criminal exploitation response

We do not yet fully understand the scale or level of risk to children in terms of “county lines” drug-running and other criminal exploitation.

Furthermore, we need to learn the lessons from past sexual exploitation cases if the agencies involved are to respond effectively.

The warning has come in a joint report from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, and HM Inspectorate of Probation.

It also warns that all children, and not just the most vulnerable, are at risk of criminal exploitation – a risk that should not be underestimated.

It says that while the most vulnerable are obvious targets for gangs, there are examples of private school children being groomed too.

County lines activity is when individuals or gangs use children and vulnerable adults to transport and sell Class A drugs – mainly from urban areas into market or coastal towns. Children are also used to transport and hide weapons.

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