CHARD NEWS: Protecting children and young people from criminal gangs in Chard

CHARD NEWS: Protecting children and young people from criminal gangs in Chard

FUNDS for a charity which supports young people to try and prevent them from being criminally and sexually exploited is to be held in Chard – a town which has its own problems with city-based crime gangs.

The organisation Escape Line – which works with children and young people aged from ten to 25 years - is arranging a fundraising evening at The Art Café and Bistro in Holyrood Street, Chard, on Friday, July 19, 2019.

There will be a two-course meal from 7.30pm along with live music from Stevie Brown and it will cost £15 per person.

Booking is essential – so please enquiries@escapeline.org.uk for tickets and further information.

Although the level of crime in the Somerset area is generally low in comparison to other parts of the UK, there are growing issues in rural communities such as Chard with County Lines and Cuckooing.CHARD NEWS: Protecting children and young people from criminal gangs in Chard Photo 1

County Lines describes gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs, often from large cities, into other areas of the country, using dedicated mobile phone lines.

Cuckooing is where drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person in order to use it as a base for drug dealing. 

A spokesman for the Escape Line charity said: “It has been identified that children and young people are being criminally and sexually exploited by County Line gangs in Chard.

“We recently held an activity and fundraising day at Holyrood Academy in Chard. We raised nearly £400 for extra activities for young people in the town over the summer holidays.

“This fundraising event is to raise more money for activities and trips during the summer holidays for the young people in Chard in order to take them off the streets and away from the parks where they are currently being recruited and exploited.

“By providing different activities and trips for young people it will ensure a safer environment for them.”

As part of the fundraising the organisers will be holding a raffle. If anyone would like to donate a raffle prize – please get in touch with them by emailing enquiries@escapeline.org.uk .CHARD NEWS: Protecting children and young people from criminal gangs in Chard Photo 2

“The more money we can raise the more activities we can offer to our young people and the safer they will be,” added the charity spokesman.

“There has been a massive increase in young people being criminally and sexually exploited in the local South West area.

“What makes it difficult for the police and social workers, is many of these young people are not aware initially of what they are getting themselves into and do not realise they are being groomed.

“When they eventually become aware of the dangers, they are either too scared or trapped to speak out, due to being intimidated and manipulated by these gangs.

“The hardest part for professionals, is trying to engage with these young people and this takes up a lot of time and resources to forge and build a trusting relationship, so they can be supported and kept safe and for the police to be able to prosecute the perpetrators.

“In extreme circumstances, young people have had to be moved away from the area and from their families, to ensure they are kept safe, which is very costly and also an added stress and upset to the young person, as they can no longer live with their families, even though they live in a loving and supported household.”

Anyone wanting more information about Escape Line – please visit www.escapeline.org.uk .

Anyone suspecting a child, young person or vulnerable members of society are being exploited by criminal gangs – please contact police on 101 or phone Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.

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