Middle-class children ‘being groomed to sell drugs’

The Telegraph reports that middle class children are being groomed to sell drugs by criminal gangs branching out from cities into rural towns, a report has warned.

Children as young as eight from “stable and economically better-off” backgrounds are at risk of being exploited by gangs using “county lines” tactics, which facilitate the supply of class A drugs from urban areas to county or coastal towns, it found.

The “county lines” tactic involves the operation of a telephone number in an area outside a gang’s normal area which is then used to sell drugs directly to users at street level.

The APPG’s paper, based on testimony given at a meeting of experts, parents and agencies earlier this year, warned that “any child can be groomed for criminal exploitation” from any area.

The report highlighted that children currently receive little or no education to help them understand criminal exploitation and the associated risks, making them ill-equipped to identify when they are being groomed or exploited by gangs.

Ann Coffey, Labour MP and chair of the APPG, said: “Young people who are groomed into drug-running by adults are being exploited in the same way as those who are enticed into sexual activity.

“Once a child is criminalised it is very hard to get them back to the other side of the law.”

Read more Middle-class children ‘being groomed to sell drugs’

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