PFCC praises Essex County Council for its financial commitment to help tackle County Lines
Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, has today thanked members of Essex County Council for their support in tackling County Lines.
In its budget announcement yesterday, the Council recognised both Mr Hirst’s and Essex Police’s commitment to tackling the problem and announced it will be making £500,000 available to the Police, Fire and Commissioner for Essex to help fund the partnership based approach which will protect young people who are at risk of being exploited and coming to harm.
Roger Hirst said: “I want to commend Essex County Council for supporting our work in this area. We will use the money to commission services and projects that can divert young people from being coerced into taking part in these criminal activities which is causing high harm to them and others in their communities. Only by working in partnership can we stop this and protect our young people.”
Last November, the Home Office announced that Essex would be receiving £664,000 to help tackle the complex issues of serious violence, youth exploitation and drug gangs which have become a significant and growing concern for residents in every area of our county.
This was money was awarded following a successful bid to the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex on behalf of the Safer Essex Partnership.
The money is being used to establish a Violence and Vulnerability Unit. This unit will see officers from Essex Police, the Youth Offending Service and other agencies coming together to undertake joint operations, interventions, and ensuring relevant data and intelligence is shared.
There will also be increased investment in awareness and education programmes as well as new, evidence-based preventative interventions to prevent young people from being exploited by criminal gangs.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “The problem of drug dealing gangs is sadly not one that is unique to Essex. However in this county we are not complacent about it and every day our dedicated Operation Raptor teams are taking the fight to these gangs, arresting them, targeting them and using all of our powers and tools to make their lives uncomfortable and put them behind bars.
“But the problem of gangs and county lines cannot be solved by policing alone. We need to educate our young people that this is not a glamorous lifestyle but instead a life of violence that will see them exploited by ruthless dealers. We need them to know they will be the victim of violence and be expected to perpetrate it and that they will be made to put their lives on the line by going up against rival gangs on swallowing drugs to avoid arrest.
“We need to educate our young people away from this lifestyle and we can only do that with the support of our partners in local authorities, housing, education and health to help us raise awareness and to be able to spot the signs of those at risk of exploitation by gangs. Crucially we also need our communities to be our eyes and ears to tell us about criminals operating in their areas.
“It is only through partnership we will solve this problem so the funding made available by Essex County Council is very welcome and will help us continue to work together to drive the dealers out of Essex.”