Children and vulnerable adults in Norfolk and Suffolk are being groomed by London gangs to sell drugs, a new report has found.
Last Friday, an All Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults published a report about missing children being criminally exploited by gangs.
Using Islington gangs as a case study, the report highlights 14 areas including Norfolk and Suffolk where gangs are known to have used young people or vulnerable adults to sell drugs.
It notes that individuals arrested for drug supply related offences are often found in ‘bandos’, a vulnerable drug user’s address in the county which has been ‘taken over’ and used as a base for the drug dealing operation locally.
Norfolk’s Superintendent Dave Marshall said: “We realise that gangs from metropolitan areas are exploiting young people and using them to traffic their drugs in and out of county.
“Operation Gravity was set up to tackle these issues which include drug dealing, identifying offenders, building intelligence and putting steps in place to support the young people who have been exploited.
“We continue to look at how we can build relationships with children services outside of the region to provide coordinated support to young people involved.”
A National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) spokesman said the report ‘rightly recognises the need to offer support to vulnerable children who’ve become embroiled in gangs and used in drug dealing’.
“It’s vital that as a society we recognise the signs of grooming, and that young people can be groomed for a variety of sinister motives – whether for sex, radicalisation or by gangs,” he added.
Anyone concerned that a child is involved in a gang can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, while young people seeking support or advice can call Childline on 0800 11 11.
To view the report click here.