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County Lines Drug Trafficking

Volume 683: debated on Monday 9 November 2020

What steps she is taking to tackle county lines drug trafficking and safeguard vulnerable children from exploitation. (908410)

County lines trafficking is a heinous crime, and tackling it is an absolute priority for this Government. This is why we are delivering £25 million over two years to surge activity against these ruthless criminal gangs. This includes investment in national and local law enforcement activity to roll up county lines, and funding for dedicated one-to-one specialist support for county lines victims and their families.

To effectively tackle county lines drug trafficking and safeguard vulnerable children from exploitation—both issues of great concern to my Slough constituents—sufficient, desperately needed resources must be given to our police force. Having first cut more than 21,000 police officers, the Government thankfully did a U-turn and have pledged to deliver 20,000 extra officers, but the recruitment funds have since been repurposed for the covid response. Can the Minister categorically confirm that the recruitment funds will be made available to the police?

The hon. Gentleman surely welcomes the 260 new officers that have been appointed to his local area as of 30 September. We are absolutely clear—this is a manifesto commitment, and one which I know the public took very seriously—that we will recruit an additional 20,000 officers. In addition to those 20,000 officers, we are specifically targeting the heinous crime he has set out—namely, county lines. In Thames Valley alone, we are developing a multi-agency violence reduction unit to the tune of £2.32 million, combining the expertise of the police, local government, health and education professionals, community leaders and others to identify the causes of serious violent crimes, including county lines, and deliver a multi-agency response to it.

Sorry, but I am going to have to go on to topicals. Those who did not get in may get picked up if we can get through topicals a bit quicker than we got through the other questions.