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4 July 2023 - Child exploitation and county lines - Oral evidence

Committee Education Committee
Inquiry Child exploitation and county lines

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Start times: 9:30am (private) 10:00am (public)

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Education Committee examines child exploitation and county lines

The Education Committee will question experts on what government, schools, police and other agencies can do to protect children from being groomed into county lines gangs.

Meeting details

At 10:00am: Oral evidence
Work Child exploitation and county lines (Non-inquiry session)
Co-founder and CEO at Refocus Project
Co-founder/Director at Refocus Project, and Founder at Safer Communities Alliance
SOS Project Founder at St Giles Trust
At 11:00am: Oral evidence
Work Child exploitation and county lines (Non-inquiry session)
Lead for Gangs and County Lines at National Police Chiefs’ Council
Head of Community Safety at Southend-on-Sea City Council
Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Children’s Homes Association
Panel Member at Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel

County Lines gangs exploit children to move and store drugs and money from urban areas to coastal and market towns, often using coercion, intimidation, and violence. The Children’s Commissioner for England believes that at least 27,000 children are county lines gang members, with 4,000 in London alone. An additional 120,000 children – one in every 25 teens in England- are estimated to experience broader risk factors associated with exploitation.  

In the first panel, MPs will quiz charity leaders from Refocus and St Giles Trust with frontline experience in dealing with county lines. Questions will likely focus on their work in the area and what more can be done to protect at-risk children from being groomed into gangs through funding, policy recommendations, and joint-working.  

In the second panel, the cross-party Committee will hear from representatives of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, the Children’s Homes Association, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Southend-on-Sea City Council. MPs may ask about different approaches taken to police county lines exploitation, whether the scale of childhood exploitation is getting better or worse, and the role of children’s homes in combating child exploitation.  

There could also be questions about what guidance could be offered to help teachers spot child exploitation, the differences in grooming between genders and ethnicities, and the impact of Baroness Casey’s review into police behaviour. 

For advice or support regarding the issues discussed in this session, please reach out to one of the following organisations:

Childline – A confidential service for children and young people under 19 for help "with any issue they're going through". 

NSPCC – Trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support if you have concerns about a child.

Missing People’s SafeCall service – A confidential and non-judgemental space offering emotional support and practical advice to young people affected by gang exploitation and concerned family members and carers.

If you think a child is in immediate danger, please call the police on 999 straight away.

Additional information and support:

#LookCloser To Spot Exploitation | The Children's Society (

Criminal exploitation and gangs | NSPCC

County Lines Support and Rescue - Catch22 (

ROUTES Bristol | Barnardo's (

Independent Guardian Service | Barnardo's (


Room 15, Palace of Westminster

How to attend