County lines gangs – a letter to the Editor of The Times
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England.
The Prime Minister’s decision to tackle the gang leaders who are targeting our kids through a cross-government Cabinet committee should be applauded. For far too long, entrenched problems with certain groups of teenagers have been passed around Whitehall and from one service to another on the ground. Teenagers with similar needs can be found in mental health hospitals, secure children’s homes, and child jails, depending on how they first come into contact with services.
The problem of ‘county lines’ gangs often involves one of these groups of teenagers – those expelled from school, recruited from pupil referral centres, many of them needing mental health support but not getting it. Eventually they tip into the care system or the criminal justice system. The police tell me these teens are in need of social care support rather than policing intervention. Partly as a result, the number of teenagers coming into care has risen sharply to try to protect them from criminal gangs. This then puts new pressure on a care system not established to deal with the fallout from the criminal exploitation of children.
This is primarily a criminal and not a social care issue; these children need the protection of the police; and the Prime Minister’s willingness to ‘cut the head off the snake’, as you put it, and tackle the criminal gangs at source, is exactly what the problem needs.
This letter was published in The Times, 16 Jan 2020.
Latest News from
Responding to the DfE’s announcement on children in care living in unregulated accommodation12/02/2020 14:33:00
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, has responded to the Department for Education’s announcement on children in care living in unregulated accommodation.
Responding to the multi-agency report on children sexually abused within the family05/02/2020 12:20:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England has responded to the multi-agency report on children sexually abused within the family.
Tackling harmful content on Facebook – Anne Longfield’s letter to Facebook’s Head of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg03/02/2020 15:10:00
The following open letter to Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Head of Global Affairs, was published in The Daily Telegraph on Jan 30, 2020.
Children’s mental health report warns ‘chasm’ remains between what services are available and what children need31/01/2020 14:10:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published her third annual children’s mental health briefing, ‘The state of children’s mental health services’.
Responding to the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ report on the separation of children in young offender institutions21/01/2020 13:20:00
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, has responded to today’s report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.
Keeping kids safe, Anne Longfield’s article for the Huffington Post17/01/2020 13:25:00
This week’s publication of the inquiry into the catastrophic failures to protect very vulnerable children in Greater Manchester is another reminder of how agencies and authorities whose job it is to protect those at risk have too often let them down.
Thousands of children in care passed around the system like parcels and living miles away from family and friends24/12/2019 10:10:00
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, is today (Tuesday December 24th) publishing a report revealing thousands of children in the care system are living many miles away from family and friends. The report, ‘Pass the parcel: children posted around the care system’, shines a light on the experiences of children in care who are moved ‘out of area’ – away from their home boroughs where family and friends live.
Response to the Home and Foreign Secretaries regarding British children in Syria07/11/2019 12:10:00
Earlier this year Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, wrote to the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary regarding the safety and welfare of British children who have become involved in the conflict in Syria.
Marking 30 years of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child with call on political parties to put the spotlight on children during election campaign05/11/2019 15:20:00
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, is calling on the political parties fighting the General Election to put the spotlight on children’s issues, as she joins the Children’s Commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, in publishing an assessment of the UK’s progress on children’s rights.