Home secretary's pledge to fight back against evil drugs gangs who exploit vulnerable children
PUBLISHED: 17:50 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:51 21 September 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
The home secretary has pledged to "fight back" against "evil" drugs gangs who have recruited and enslaved thousands of vulnerable children across the country, including in and around Norwich.
In recent years, gangs arriving in Norwich from bigger cities like London have been grooming children as young as 12 with the promise of money, status or friendship.
The problem has been brought into sharp focus following Norfolk Police’s ongoing high-profile crackdown on county lines drug dealers, code-named Operation Gravity.
And now home secretary Sajid Javid has delivered a hard-hitting message to drugs gang bosses, insisting he will be taking action against the “cowardly” criminals who “ruin lives and damage society”.
In a column in a national newspaper, Mr Javid said it was “chilling” that young children were being lured into becoming drugs mules, or couriers, who faced with brutality or intimidation then flood towns and resorts with heroin and cocaine.
More than 1,000 country lines gangs are believed to operate in Britain - a 40per cent rise in just one year - making an estimated £1.8billion annual profit between them.
But Mr Javid has insisted he will wage war on the child slave drug gangs to try and bring about an end to this evil trade.
Mr Javid said: “The impact of county lines not only ruins lives and damages society. It is one of the key drivers behind the recent rise in violent crime.
“It chills me that young people are being used in this cowardly way and that vulnerable adults are also being caught up in this terrible criminality.
“That is why the government is taking action to disrupt these networks, bring the evil bosses who oversee them to justice and -above all else - keep our children safe.”
The home secretary has announced a £3.6m investment in a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre which will identify and disrupt county lines hotspots and will be staffed with around 40 experienced officers from the police and National Crime Agency (NCA).
Meanwhile Norfolk County Council has announced how a new £250,000 taskforce has been set up to disrupt gangs that aim to recruit vulnerable children in and around the city to deal drugs.