Rescue and Response project helps hundreds of young Londoners exit County Lines

Nine out of ten young people have reduced or completely stopped involvement in county lines activity thanks to the MOPAC commissioned Rescue and Response project. The figures come from the most recent Strategic Assessment on the project released on 28 July 2022.

This success has been achieved through St Giles working in multi-agency partnership with Abianda, Safer London Foundation, the London Boroughs involved and the Mayor’s Office.

According to the report on the project by Brent Council, the need to support vulnerable young people who are exploited through county lines remains consistent with previous years, highlighting the importance of multi-agency interventions to safeguard and protect young people.

As outlined in his Police and Crime plan, the Mayor of London is committed to continuing to support young Londoners who have experienced serious violence and/or criminal exploitation.

St Giles has been working on Rescue and Response since its launch in 2018 as one of the service delivery partners with responsibility for supporting vulnerable young people from London exploited through county lines activity.  St Giles offers an immediate ‘rescue’ for young Londoners up to the age of 25 who have come into contact with authorities through suspected county lines in areas outside of London.

Specially-trained outreach workers with lived-experience use the ‘teachable moment’ of a rescue, to discuss the risks of county lines with a young person. St Giles provides intensive, non-judgmental support at a time in their lives when they are often at their most vulnerable.  Most are traumatised by the exploitation they have experienced in county lines and scared of opening up to professionals.

Since the beginning of the project to April 2021, over 70 rescues have been carried out, with the greatest number of requests from Sussex (54) and Hampshire (25)

Despite this success, St Giles is highlighting the need for continued county lines support, with further investment required to continue to support these vulnerable young people. We are concerned that without continued funding, those who are most at risk could miss out on this vital intervention.

James* was referred to the project following an arrest related to county lines in Essex. This was the second time that he had been arrested, but the first time relating to county lines as well the first time for the family reporting the young person going missing. St Giles stepped in to support him and to work towards some positive goals. Thanks to bespoke guidance from St Giles, he completed his police bail successfully and has not subsequently gone missing. Through regained focus, he has done well academically and secured a number of offers of university places.

Evan Jones, Head of Child Criminal Exploitation at St Giles, said:

We are proud to have worked with our partners on Rescue and Response to help some of the most vulnerable young Londoners. County line involvement devastates young families, with exploitation carried out through a worrying array of methods.

We are specialists in helping young people exit county lines and move forward with their lives.

Since 2017, St Giles has been offering specialised services to help young people exit county lines and look forward to positive futures.

With the cost-of-living crisis meaning there is a real risk of a spike in exploitation, as poverty takes hold, the future is worrying, but through working in partnership with projects like Rescue and Response, we can reach many more young people and offer them the help they so urgently need.

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