County lines gangs target free wifi areas to find children to groom

County lines gangs are targeting free wifi areas to find children to lure into drug dealing, new report warns

  • Criminals also recruit young people at more traditional locations such as parks
  • Howard League for Penal Reform said children were being ‘criminally exploited’ 
  • It blamed failures in local and central government as child grooming continues

County lines criminals are targeting children who congregate at free wi-fi spots in towns and cities across the UK, a report warns.

The internet hotspots – popular with youngsters who have used up their credit on pay-as-you-go phones – provide an ideal place for gangsters to groom vulnerable children, a charity says.

Criminals also try to recruit young people at more traditional locations such as parks and bus stops, it added.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said children were being ‘criminally exploited and abused’ because of failures in local and central government. 

County lines criminals are targeting children who congregate at free wi-fi spots in towns and cities across the UK, a report warns

‘People running county lines exploit children to conduct their criminal activities in order to escape detection and because children are easier to control and manipulate than adults,’ the report said.

‘They look for vulnerability, targeting children who are more susceptible to being groomed and who are least likely to have a caring adult looking out for them and noticing what is going on in their lives.

‘They will target children with additional needs, mental health problems and difficulties at home, such as bereavement or parental conflict.

The Daily Mail has been at the forefront of highlighting the scourge of county lines gangs, which enslave thousands of children

‘Children on the edge of care and looked-after children are an obvious target.

‘In some places, criminals will hang around children’s homes but children will also be targeted in other locations, such as parks, bus-stops, near free wi-fi – wherever children hang out.’

The Daily Mail has been at the forefront of highlighting the scourge of county lines gangs, which enslave thousands of children.

 

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