VULNERABLE young people forced to sell drugs around the country by organised criminals are being handed a lifeline.
The new initiative, which is being launched by the region’s Violence Reduction Unit, will see four new full time rescue workers and two outreach workers employed by the St Giles Trust.
Their work to help the young person escape a life of violence and exploitation and rebuild their lives will begin when the young person has been arrested for selling drugs.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, said the point of arrest is known to be one of the most effective moments to work with exploited individuals and to help them realise the trauma and abuse they have been subjected to, before supporting them to escape the exploitation once and for all.
The new £60,000 scheme is being funded by both the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit and the Home Office and will run, as a trial, until March next year.
Mr Foster, said: “Quite often these youngsters are nothing more than children who should be at school, but feel they have no choice but to do the dirty work of making money for drug dealers. Sadly, that work can land them in prison or, worse, dead.
“It also causes chaos in towns throughout the country that are seeing spikes in violence and drug dealing.
“That is why I’m fully supportive of this new initiative. Coupled with a robust police response against the drug dealers who perpetrate these crimes, this initiative will help us to reduce violence and protect vulnerable children from exploitation.”
Steve Clarke from the St Giles Trust, said: “Children and young people entrenched in county lines are in incredibly vulnerable situations and often scared, traumatised and wary of opening up to anyone.
“Our team can offer them non-judgemental support that can act as a bridge between the young person and other services.
“We are looking forward to working in partnership with other providers to address this growing problem.”