Humberside Police have been made aware of media reports claiming that young people being exploited by county lines gangs in North East Lincolnshire are being forced to wear ‘uniforms’ and severely punished if they do not comply.
Humberside Police and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust would like to provide some clarification on the matter.
They work closely together to protect all children – including those suspected of being exploited by organised crime groups.
The reports claim that drug dealers have been forcing children they exploit into wearing strict uniforms of certain clothing brands and cutting their hair in a specific style – punishing those who don’t through beatings, knife attacks and by cutting their genitals.
Detective Inspector Phil Booker, who leads a unit dedicated to protecting children from criminal exploitation and tackling county lines gangs, said:
We have no intelligence to suggest that this is the case and feel it’s important to provide this clarification in case children of similar appearance who are not involved in any criminal activity are wrongly believed to be working for county lines gangs. Clinical staff and police officers alike work hard to protect all children who are at risk of exploitation and we have tried and tested processes in place to do this. We want to be able to continue to do this and therefore remind anyone with information or concerns relating to this issue that they should contact us directly, so that we can take the appropriate action.