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Gang culture awareness sessions for schools

Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones has awarded St Giles Trust £47,000 to deliver County Lines, Child Criminal Exploitation, Knife Crime, Organised Crime and Gang Culture awareness raising sessions in schools across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The programme will work with pupils in years six and seven (age 10- 12), as transitioning years between Primary and Secondary School.

In Hampshire, young people who are exploited are an average age of 14. It is hoped that working with pupils approaching this age to raise awareness of the signs of exploitation and consequences of violence will mean early intervention and prevention.

The aim is to provide these young people with the knowledge and tools to continue to make positive lifestyle choices away from criminality as they enter adulthood. These tools are much harder to embed in young adults and it is also more difficult to support individuals to exit gangs once they are already indebted to gang members.

County lines is the term used by police to refer to urban gangs supplying Class A drugs to suburban areas, rural areas, market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines. Gangs typically use children and young people as runners to move drugs and money to and from the urban area and this often involves them being exploited through deception, intimidation, violence, debt bondage, grooming and/or trafficking.

Donna Jones said: “Gangs dealing drugs is not a new issue but the extent to which criminal exploitation of children, as well as increasing use of violence, has become an inherent part of county lines makes it especially damaging. Raising awareness at an earlier age of the tricks that are used by these gangs to draw children in can help prevent them from getting involved, being exploited and being in danger of committing, or becoming a victim of, violence.”

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