More than 1000 children trafficked into UK drugs trade last year

The figures were released by the Home Office's Serious and Organised Crime Group (SOCG) unit in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Activists take part in a 'Walk for Freedom' to protest against human trafficking in Berlin, Germany, October 20, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
Activists take part in a 'Walk for Freedom' to protest against human trafficking in Berlin, Germany, October 20, 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
More than 1,100 children were trafficked into the UK's drug trade in 2019, nearly double the figure in 2018, figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request have shown.
In response to the request, made by the drug reform charity Transform, the Home Office's Serious and Organised Crime Group (SOCG) unit revealed that between January and December last year, 1,853 people were trafficked into the illicit drugs trade, of which the majority, 1,173, were children.
According to Transform, the growth in numbers has been fuelled by a growing national focus on "county lines" drug operations by police forces across the UK. According to the Children's Society, county lines is a form of criminal exploitation in which children are groomed and exploited to sell drugs. The children are often forced to travel across county boundaries and use dedicated phone 'lines' to supply the drugs.
Exact figures on how many children are involved are hard to ascertain. The Children's Society has estimated that 46,000 children in England are involved in gang activity, including 4,000 teens in London alone who are being exploited in this way.
The Home Office figures obtained by Transform recorded 1,139 people involved in county lines trafficking, up from 721 in 2018, of which 1,001 were children.
Harvey Slade, a research and policy officer at Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said: “The illegal drug trade provides an unparalleled source of revenue for organised crime groups. These new statistics show that organised crime groups are exploiting young and vulnerable people to avoid detection by law enforcement, and maximise profits.”