Substance misuse is a key issue affecting the people St Giles supports in a number of ways. Many of our clients have been or are experiencing issues around addiction. Others are being exploited through criminal gangs to traffic and deal drugs through so-called county lines activity. For both the individuals directly affected and their families, accessing support services around substance misuse can be challenging.
We welcome the Government’s pledge (6 December 2021) to allocate £780 million to provide much-needed drugs treatment services throughout England including £300 million to address the ongoing problem around county lines exploitation.
St Giles helped over 1,704 young people involved in or at risk of gang violence and exploitation last year, much of this work funded by The Home Office and The Mayor of London.
We know from our own frontline experience that enforcement measures alone do not provide a comprehensive or long-term solution to addressing problems around drug taking and dealing. Tackling root causes through prevention, support and ensuring young people are aware of the dangers of county lines exploitation is key.
Illegal drug use and the issues surrounding it are complex problems with a web of underlying factors around trauma, poverty, social exclusion and lack of access to positive opportunities. By continuing to train and support people with direct, first-hand experience of these issues to become positive role models inspiring change in others, we believe we can play an important part of the solution to the continued drugs crisis affecting the UK.
If you or anyone you know is affected by county lines exploitation please click here for support and advice.