Launceston children launch county lines campaign

Children as young as 7 are being exploited by brutal county lines drug dealers in the UK, according to a new report from the Children’s Society.  The charity says it has found “alarming evidence” of primary school children being targeted by gangs who traffic drugs from urban to rural areas, like Cornwall.

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That’s why the students at Launceston College have been working with local primary schools to raise awareness of the issue.  The Year 9 students, who recently presented their research to members of the police, local councillors and who have written to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, have now adapted their findings to make it more suitable for younger children.

Cornwall Councillor for Launceston Central, Gemma Massey, explains more: “Although they feel as though their voice has been heard by officials, the young people at Launceston Community College really felt this message needed to reach those that could be affected directly. So they have adapted their presentation, to make it suitable for children under 11, they have then invited all of the local primary schools into the college here to find out more.

“It’s a great exercise for them to make it understandable; adapting the language to inform the younger children about the dangers, but not to scare them. I am incredibly proud of the work they have done on this and in raising the issue; it has been a delight to work with and support them.”

Police have previously found children as young as 10 linked to the 2,000 drug-dealing county lines estimated to be operating in the UK, but a new report found younger victims may be overlooked because they are below the age of criminal responsibility. 

Student Naomi Prowt said: “I knew a little about this before we started this project, but when you start digging and researching it is a big shock. Gangs are targeting children aged 10, 11 or younger because they are vulnerable.”

Another student Bethany Tryner added: “We’ve been researching what has been going on and talking to one of our local Police Officers, PC Stoppard from Launceston Police.  I was surprised it was happening here; I always thought this kind of thing happens further up the country and it wouldn’t ever affect us. Our work now is designed to make younger children aware that they could be targeted.”

Councillor Massey concluded: “This problem isn’t a million miles way, with a recent case in Callington, which is less than 20 miles away from the college in Launceston. But the work being done by the students, the police and Cornwall Council is a great example of multiple agencies coming together to tackle this issue.”

If you know someone that has been affected by county lines or have any information, please call Crimestoppers on: 0800 555 111