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An estimated 4,000 teenagers in London alone are involved in county lines drug dealing.

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© CLGdotTV 2018

The Children’s Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity.

WARNING SOME PEOPLE MAY FIND THIS VIDEO and PODCAST CONTENT UPSETTING

Lizzie McCulloch from Volteface talking to Rhiannon Sawyer of the Children's Society. A podcast of this content is available to download or listen to, see details below

For the first time ever we have put an "upsetting content" warning in front of CLGdotTV content. Read on if you have a strong stomach.

County lines is a term coined to describe the criminal exploitation of children by organised crime gangs. The children are useful in the sale and distribution of drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties to supply the drugs and use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to organise their activities. Some of them are as young as 12. Some, we don't know how many, have been trafficked from the other side of the world, sold into sex slavery and put to running drugs out of our cities into England's green and pleasant land. When they die their death is unremarked for they were uncounted and invisible to start with.

Last week - two days before the conviction of Zakaria Mohammed under the Modern Slavery Act for trafficking children as young as 14 to run drugs to Lincoln - we recorded a Voltface interview about county lines drug crime with Rhiannon Sawyer from The Children's Society. I didn't know what to expect.

Unsurprisingly the interview was deeply depressing. I had asked Lizzie McCulloch from Volteface to get from Rhiannon a description of the abuse, conditions and dangers the children are enduring. The answer to this question which falls more or less mid-way through our programme is delivered by Rhiannon in unemotional tones. She ticks off the horrors on her fingers as she goes through the list and adds a supplementary "one more thing" and a final "perhaps I should add". This litany of human depravity and inflicted misery is as horrifying as anything I have heard about in the last 100 years of our history and is happening in our England, in our lifetime, on our watch. It is happening in most or all of our major towns and cities. And I don't mind admitting that looking at the footage afterwards I was ashamed.

Joe Tibbetts
Producer
CLGdotTV 2018
 
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An Audience with CLGdotTV takes place four times a year. We invite a studio audience of around 50 to share a day making CLGdotTV programmes. We make six programmes in one day. A seat on one of the panels or in the audience is by invitation. Guests can come for an hour and join in making a single programme or come for the day and star in the lot. The programmes will be available on-demand and free to view from our CLGdotTV platform and may also be linked to from sponsors websites.

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