An Islington councillor is calling for a national strategy to tackle the problem known as “county lines”-the use children as young as 12 by gangs to traffic drugs, using dedicated mobile phones or “lines”.
Cllr Joe Caluori, who led a project to use data from police, social services, and missing persons records to build a picture of the problem in Islington, has called for a more integrated approach from authorities to tackle the issue:
“County lines is a national problem which we will not solve on our own, because it depends on police forces and local authorities from around the country all knowing how to behave to safeguard the young people who are involved.”
The councillor suggested that police should be treating young boys as potential victims and offering them a chance to disclose details.
Although authorities are attempting to deal with the problem in a more strategic manner, Cllr Caluori feels councils have been left to deal with a “chaotic system” that has “no leadership from national government whatsoever”. He described the outcome of a meeting with the Home Office on the issue as “highly unsatisfactory” with the minister “refusing to act” on the problem.
The National Crime Agency report noted that although gangs from London dominate the activity there has been an increase in cases from other counties with gangs from the north west exploiting teenagers in the same way.