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Councils launch joint funding bid to fight drugs gangs

Islington joins forces with Enfield, Barnet, Camden, Hackney and Haringey in bid to tackle ‘county lines’ dealers

14 July, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Cllr Joe Caluori: ‘Difficult to build up a picture as one borough’

TOWN Hall chiefs have agreed to table a joint bid with five other London boroughs for extra funding to tackle “county lines” drug dealing.

Islington Council has joined forces with Enfield, Barnet, Camden, Hackney and Haringey to prepare a funding bid to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

Councillor Joe Caluori, Islington’s children and young people chief, said: “We agreed to jointly bid to have a common approach to how we deal with ‘county lines’ drug dealing and safeguarding young people.

“We have our data analysis people working together to have a common way to track the scale of the problem.

“It’s difficult to build up a picture as one borough alone because young people in gangs are so mobile.”

The “county lines” gangs sell drugs, usually crack cocaine and heroin, in towns outside London using a telephone number people can ring to make orders.

Several Islington gangs are involved and there is concern about youngsters’ safety as they travel to places as far away as Aberdeen to sell drugs.

The council is increasingly worried about the growing number of teenage girls being groomed into the lucrative business, particularly because they are at risk of being sexually exploited by older gang members.

Cllr Caluori added: “We want to be bidding for money so we can commission people to work with young people to do safeguarding work, to try and find different ways of working with young people when they’re vulnerable.

“It might involve doing work in Essex, Suffolk, South Wales and Aberdeen, so we have to be creative.”

He added: “I’m very keen that we look at doing work that communicates with young people about the risks.” Videos on social media would explain the dangers involved.

Cllr Caluori has taken a lead in London by raising the issue with the Home Office. He wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in February, with the support of 18 London boroughs, calling for the government to do more to tackle county lines drug dealing.

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