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New report suggests children as young as seven are being exploited by county lines.

Research by the Children’s Society suggests that children as young as seven are been used by organised criminals to move drugs.

There have been many recent reports suggesting children are being cynically exploited with the promise of money, drugs, status and affection and they’re being controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse, leaving them traumatised and living in fear.

The research concludes that the criminals are winning, and professionals are struggling to keep up with the scale and context of criminal exploitation. The response from statutory agencies is too variable and often comes too late. Children are being too easily criminalised and are not viewed as victims of exploitation. There is also a concerning lack of data and reporting about children at risk of criminal exploitation.

This report calls for professionals to recognise child criminal exploitation and provide a coordinated safeguarding response.

Read the report summary here and the full report here