County lines: Swindon Borough Council calls for more powers

image copyrightLocal Democracy Reporting Service
image captionA machete seized in Swindon by police acting against a county lines gang

A council has called on authorities to work together to shut down "the menace" of county lines exploitation of children.

Swindon Borough Council wants the government to make it easier to share information across boundaries.

It said up to 46,000 children across the country are being exploited and used as "runners" by drug dealers.

Councillor Barbara Parry's motion to ask the government for more powers received unanimous support.

"County lines" is a tactic used by city drugs gangs to sell drugs in smaller towns and communities.

Local runners - often teenagers - are used to transport the drugs using untraceable phones.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service stated the motion will see the leader of the council, David Renard, write to the government asking for a national policy to be drawn up.

'Biggest problem'

Ms Parry said: "There has been an increase in county lines activity around the country. We have seen more activity here, and Swindon has the biggest problem for it in the whole of Wiltshire.

"There are up to 46,000 children across the whole of the country being exploited in this way, and it's not only disadvantaged children or teenagers of secondary school age. There are middle-class youngsters caught up in this right now, and children in primary school are also being exploited."

The council will urge the government to make policy to allow local authorities to work together to track perpetrators and victims across authority boundaries and to help develop skills and understanding on how to help children caught up by the gangs.

The council's cabinet member for children, Mary Martin, will be asked to write to all Swindon schools asking them to include County Lines training for all staff as part of safeguarding training.

More on this story