National guidance urged on multi-agency working to take ownership of criminal exploitation, as report reveals networks’ growing reach

Experts have warned MPs that the children’s safeguarding system needs reform in order to support young people exploited by county lines drug dealing networks.

At a Home Affairs select committee session on serious violence yesterday, Simon Ford, director of the Violence and Vulnerability Unit network of community safety professionals, called for national guidance around multi-agency working on county lines to ensure social workers and health professionals “take ownership” of the situation.

Challenges created by county lines demanded a restructure in the way agencies work with each other around issues that might previously have been siloed within law enforcement and youth offending services, Ford said.

While some areas – for instance, London boroughs – were making good headway, others were making only limited progress, highlighting the need for wider support, he added.

“Some localities we go into are struggling with the demand and impact [of county lines],” Ford said. “Many areas are still not fully aware that it’s there, or understanding it.”

All areas, he said, needed to be aware of their young people most vulnerable to exploitation and to offer them “wraparound support”.

Read Article at Source  on January 30, 2019 in Children