Vulnerable children and adults are increasingly being used by organised crime gangs to supply drugs into market and coastal towns in England’s safest county.
North Yorkshire County councillors have been told efforts to crack down on County lines – the police term for urban gangs which use dedicated mobile phone lines and child criminal exploitation – were being stepped up in response.
The authority’s corporate and partnerships scrutiny committee heard while Scarborough had become an established hotspot for the criminal activity, it was on the rise in Ripon and Harrogate.
The meeting was told organised crime groups from cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham were using vulnerable children and people to run drugs.
Julie Firth, of the council’s children and families service, said: “That means you have young people who are offending prolifically and sometimes violently, but the risks to themselves from organised crime groups is so severe that their choices around that are very limited. It is really sad.”
She said the authority was working with a multi-agency partnership to tackle the problem – which also involves safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons – and had been awarded £1.2m over three years for the work.