The growing menace of county lines crimes has brought a drug crisis to suburban and rural doorsteps as amoral gangs suck children into dealing by first befriending and bribing them before threatening to harm their families if they attempt to break free of the vicious cycle they find themselves in.
Now the terrible human cost of these criminal operations have been underlined in today’s newspaper by the moving account of Helen, a mother from the Harrogate area whose 12-year-old son Callum was sucked into this nightmarish world initially through older teenagers he met at his local skate park.
Callum ended up with a drug addiction, being expelled from school, arrested by police and running away from home on frequent occasions.
Turning his life around from this bleak position has taken years, the help of specialists and the love and support of his family to make incredibly difficult and painful decisions to help save him – including signing over his care to social services to move him to a care home two hours from home.
His story and that of his despairing family who spent many long nights searching the streets for him on the occasions he went missing – as well as the initial reluctance of the local authority to become involved in his case even when things had long passed a crisis point – has many echoes of the child sexual exploitation scandals which have plagued Yorkshire in recent decades.
County lines crime is similarly ruining countless lives and families; councils and the police must work together to prevent more stories like Callum’s.