Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

  • Hundreds of vulnerable youngsters have been groomed to carry illegal drugs
  • Gangs tell them to cite the Modern Slavery Act protecting them from charges
  • MPs were told the law introduced in 2015 was being abused by the gang leaders

Gangs are ruthlessly exploiting a legal loophole to get away with luring children as young as 12 to become 'county lines' drug mules, police revealed yesterday.

Hundreds of vulnerable boys and girls have been groomed by gangs based in Britain's biggest cities to carry cocaine and heroin to small market towns and seaside resorts, exposing them to horrific violence.

Gangs tell the children that if they are caught by police peddling drugs they should cite Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act – effectively protecting them from prosecution.

shutterstock drugs
Gangs are ruthlessly exploiting a legal loophole to get away with luring children as young as 12 to become 'county lines' drug mules, police revealed yesterday (stock photo)

MPs were told yesterday that 'Mr Bigs' are abusing the law, introduced by Theresa May as home secretary in 2015, to safeguard their illicit networks.

Meanwhile, police chiefs said that 505 suspects had been arrested since Home Secretary Sajid Javid launched the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to strengthen the fight against crime gangs.

The gangs' operations are named after the phone lines used to organise the trade.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, modern slavery lead for the National Police Chiefs' Council, said that under Section 45 anyone aged under 18 is not guilty of committing a crime if it is carried out as a 'direct consequence' of 'exploitation'.

He told the Commons home affairs select committee: 'Section 45 is a brilliant piece of legislation but it is having an unintended consequence. It is enabling top-end serious and organised crime people to coerce others by building it into their defence.'

However, it also emerged that county lines gang bosses will be charged with slavery offences. Police and prosecutors believe the labels of 'slave master' and 'child trafficker' are more likely to deter gang bosses than if they were solely prosecuted under drugs laws.

The modern slavery laws also enable the courts to impose tougher penalties.

Article from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6595941/Gangs-tell-drug-mules-cite-modern-slavery-laws.html