‘Learn the lessons of Rotherham to tackle menace of county lines’: Ofsted chief fires warning on drug gangs which are recruiting children as young as 12 years old

Lessons must be learnt from the Rotherham sex abuse scandal to tackle the growing crisis over child drug mules, the schools watchdog claims. The Daily Mail reports.

Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman will warn today that no child is safe from county lines gangs, which are recruiting from middle-class families in genteel spa towns.

Up to 50,000 children, including some as young as 12, have been forced to run some 1,500 drug supply lines in provincial towns.

The Chief Inspector of Schools will warn: ‘I am very concerned that, despite the hard lessons we have all learned from past failures to pick up child sexual exploitation, similar mistakes may be being made.’

In a major speech, she will urge all agencies including social services, police and the NHS not to ‘lag behind’ in spotting the issue and add: ‘We’ve seen before the dangers of not discussing contextual or risk factors that relate to race or religion, for example.’ 

Mrs Spielman will deliver her stark warning to council bosses and care providers at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Manchester.

She is due to say: ‘Though children who have fallen out education are likely to be targeted…all children, including those in areas of relative affluence, are fair game.

‘We have heard of gangs targeting private school children, for example, because they are less likely to raise suspicion.’

Mrs Spielman fears not all professionals ‘fully understand the scale of the problem in their area’. She will say: ‘This means that agencies aren’t always spotting children who are at risk. Children who are being exploited can’t wait for agencies that are lagging behind.’

The Ofsted report published today follows a series of inspections of public services in local authority areas to assess how they are tackling the gangs.

Read more ‘Learn the lessons of Rotherham to tackle menace of county lines’: Ofsted chief fires warning on drug gangs which are recruiting children as young as 12 years old

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