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Council apply for government funding to prevent children in east Cheshire being exploited by drug dealers

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 11:33am

By Jenny Bonson & Stephen Topping, Local Democracy Reporter @newsjenny

Cheshire East Council is looking at ways of tackling the issue of 'county lines'.

The practice involves crime gangs from cities or large towns coercing vulnerable people and children into selling drugs in smaller towns and villages.

Last week, a crackdown on the issue by the county's police force saw 31 arrests made.

Officers say they also safeguarded six victims.

At a Cheshire East Council scrutiny committee meeting this week, members were told that the authority has bid for funding from the Government’s Troubled Families unit to help it support vulnerable children across the borough who are at risk of being exploited by dealers.

CEC officer Ali Stathers-Tracey told the committee: “In terms of what we know nationally that works around young people who are becoming criminally corrupted, half the battle is knowing who else is involved.

“Often the parents are bewildered, it is beyond them.

“This stuff isn’t short term. It is trusted relationships over time that change young people’s mindsets.”

Ms Stathers-Tracey added that the council is working closely with police in an effort to support youngsters who are at risk.

CEC officer Jacquie Sims told the committee that they are also working on a number of new initiatives to help support vulnerable children that could be exploited for county lines operations.

They include a screening tool for social care professionals to report concerns, a protection plan for children who are at risk of criminal exploitation and closer work with schools.

“We know that the thing that keeps children most safe is for them to be in school full time,” Ms Sims said.

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