21/12/2018: ‘We weren’t set up to deal with this’: how councils have responded to county lines
It was spring 2015, recalls Trish Leivesley, now child criminal exploitation lead at North East Lincolnshire council, when something “really weird” came to her attention. A 16-year-old, little known to youth justice services, was the victim of a serious stabbing. Instead of reporting it he returned home and initially tried to conceal his injury. A week later, two more young people were stabbed, with all three incidents appearing to be linked to class-A drug dealing. Over the next few days, a number of young people considered high-risk and vulnerable by youth offending services showed up with unusual injuries that did not correlate with their explanations of fighting or falling off motorbikes.
10/12/2018: Councils receive £4.5m to support children of alcoholics
Nine councils are to share £4.5m in government funding to support children of alcoholics and dependent drinkers, the government has announced. The money, being provided through the Innovation Fund for Children of Dependent Drinkers, which is managed by Public Health England (PHE), will be used to run projects with a “new and creative approach” to supporting families affected by alcohol.
08/12/2018: Testing drugs at festivals is ‘a lifesaver’, study finds
An alarming rise in drug-related deaths at music festivals can be countered by testing illicit substances onsite, according to the first academic study of its kind, which has triggered calls for similar services to be rolled out at all major events. Testers found that one in five substances sold at the Secret Garden Party, a four-day festival in Cambridgeshire in July 2016, were not as described by dealers.
06/12/2018: Behind County Lines
Criminals are exploiting children as young as 12 to transport drugs between counties across the UK – it is known as county lines. Gangs are hiring vulnerable youngsters as part of a major push to expand their business from big cities into rural Britain – using them as mules unassuming enough to avoid suspicion and detection.
06/12/2018: Xanax: Treatment for addiction rises sharply in children
The number of children being treated for addiction to tranquilisers has doubled in a year, to more than 300, according to Public Health England. The drug Xanax, and copies of it, accounted for the sharpest rise – from eight children receiving treatment in 2016-17 to 53 in 2017-18. Ambulance services around the country have also reported a growing problem.
27/11/2018: Avoid more crime by NOT locking up children used to sell drugs by ‘county lines’ gangs, urges families minister
Vulnerable children used as drugs mules by ‘county lines’ gangs must be helped rather than locked up, the families minister has urged. Nadhim Zahawi said too many youngsters in care are getting caught up in the criminal system after being coerced by drugs gangs. In the first guidance of its kind he is urging police, social workers, teachers and the courts to spot the signs of grooming and intervene before it is too late.
26/11/2018: Childhood trauma: ‘Hundreds of babies born addicted to drugs’
Since 2015, almost 600 babies have been born in Scotland addicted to drugs, figures released through a freedom of information request have revealed. The finding will add fuel to the debate in Scottish education about the effect of “adverse childhood experiences” and how the early years of education could be changed to improve children’s lives.
20/11/2018: ‘Legal highs’: Street dealers now main source of supply after ban
The sale of so-called legal highs has gone underground after a blanket ban came into force, a report says. While the ban has led to a “considerable reduction” in use of the drugs, street dealers are now the main source of supply. Now officially known as new psychoactive substances (NPS), they mimic the effects of other drugs like cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.
19/11/2018: Letting children try alcohol at home won’t deter binge drinking, say UK experts
Parents are being urged to delay the moment their child first drinks alcohol because it can damage the growing brain. The idea that introducing your child to alcohol, for example with a glass of wine at the dinner table, will take away the novelty and deter binge drinking is a myth, say experts. Too many people still believe that families drinking together in France keeps children safe, when actually the county’s rates of alcohol dependence and binge drinking exceed those in the UK.
19/11/2018: ‘A lost generation’: How austerity has created vacuum being filled by drug gangs exploiting children
Austerity and rampant drug dealing have created a “lost generation” of children living in fear of violence across the UK, police and former gang members have said. There are fears the recent spate of bloody street stabbings in London, where 20 teenagers have been killed so far this year, will not be the last if funding to police and public services is not urgently increased.
15/11/2018: Pubs fail to stop underage gambling, watchdog warns
Only 10% of pubs intervene to stop children gambling on their premises, the Gambling Commission has found. The watchdog said it had found a “concerning” number of pubs where youngsters used gaming machines. Pub staff are expected to prevent under-18s playing on the machines and there should be clear signage indicating the age restriction.
14/11/2018: Drug gangs targeting private school pupils, warns Ofsted
Gangs operating so-called county-lines drug networks are targeting private school children, as they are “less likely to raise suspicion”, the chief inspector of schools will say today. The networks see urban dealers forcing children and other vulnerable people to courier illegal substances to customers in more rural areas, and Ofsted boss Amanda Spielman will use a speech in Manchester to warn of the issue.
09/11/2018: Axing train guards could help ‘county lines’ drug gangs recruit youngsters, security minister fears
A Home Office minister has voiced fears that removing guards from trains could boost county lines drug gangs. Ben Wallace is concerned that driver-only trains will mean guards can no longer spot children carrying heroin and cocaine. Mr Wallace has ordered officials to work with the Department for Transport to see if the move will worsen the county lines menace where city gangs groom boys and girls as young as 12 to carry cocaine and heroin to market towns and seaside resorts.
08/11/2018: ‘I’d seen too much violence’: county lines networks and how services are struggling to respond
Frank was 15 and earning up to £1,000 a day selling crack cocaine, and as he told me, “I couldn’t believe I was making such easy money. Life was rosy.” And then suddenly it wasn’t. After crossing a member of the gang he’d been enticed to join with the promise of “more cash than you’ve ever seen”, Frank’s life was in danger. A dealer in his small home town for a county lines network – whereby inner-city gangs distribute class A drugs to provincial areas – Frank admitted he got greedy, mentioning “lost drugs and money owed”.
04/11/2018: Third of drug rehab centres close in just five years
Almost a third of publicly funded drugs rehab centres have closed in the last five years, Sky News has learned, amid warnings that a lack of support for addicts will lead to increased levels of crime. In April 2013 there were 195 publicly funded rehab centres in Britain, according to figures obtained by private drug rehab provider UK Addiction Treatment Centres.
30/10/2018: Quitting cannabis could lead to better memory and cognition
Abstaining from cannabis for a month can boost the memory performance of regular users, according to a study of young people who used the drug at least once a week. Researchers found that four weeks without cannabis led to a “modest but reliable” improvement in users’ memory test scores, which could be sufficient to raise students’ grades at school.
22/10/2018: University student, 20, died after triple-vodka bar crawl initiation ceremony
A first-year university student died after an “initiation-style” bar crawl involving drinking triple vodkas, an inquest has heard. Ed Farmer, 20, was found unconscious after a night out in Newcastle in December 2016 and was taken to hospital, where he later died. A post-mortem examination found he had five times the legal drink-drive limit of alcohol in his blood.
21/10/2018: National police unit starts work on ‘county lines’ drug gangs
A team of 38 investigators have begun a national crackdown on county lines drugs gangs, which send children to provincial towns to sell heroin and crack cocaine. The county lines coordination centre, based in Birmingham, is aimed at developing a national intelligence picture of the drugs networks, after increasing awareness of the tactic.
19/10/2018: Two children hospitalised by ecstasy in Devon town
Two children were rushed to hospital and two more fell ill after taking drugs which police currently believe to be ecstasy. Police are urging the public to be aware of the dangers of drugs after two children were hospitalised in Tiverton. Officers carried out a warrant under the misuse of drugs act yesterday, Thursday, following information that Blue Transformer ecstasy tablets were being sold to young people in the area.
14/10/2018: Britain’s £1bn vaping industry ‘is targeting children’ with cartoon character packaging
Britain’s vaping industry has been accused of targeting products at children by using cartoon packaging and flavours that resemble fizzy drinks to ‘hook teenagers into addiction.’ Although e-cigarette liquids cannot be sold to anyone under 18 some of the colourful packaging used by companies appear to be aimed at a younger audience.