Waltham Forest research report: co-production in addressing child criminal exploitation

Andell, Paul (2023) Waltham Forest research report: co-production in addressing child criminal exploitation. Project Report. University of Suffolk, Ipswich, UK.

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Waltham Forest has high levels of relative deprivation, with neighbourhoods housing communities
of high aspiration but blocked opportunity, which is consequential for gang-related crime. Racialised
communities are disproportionately represented as both victims and perpetrators of serious violence.
Embedded gangs remain active in the drug business and have endured several generations of
disruption activity. Newer gangs involved in drug distribution and serious crime have evolved rapidly
from neighbourhood peer groups.
After a brief period of a more localised focus during the Covid-19 pandemic, the County Line drug
distribution model continues transporting drugs to ‘out of town’ locations. County Lines organisers
continue to use coercion, intimidation and violence (including sexual violence) to control the
workforce, and increasingly gangs groom and control vulnerable people utilising online technology.
Dominant gangs are said to operate a near monopoly in drug supply in Waltham Forrest. The County
Lines workforce is becoming younger, decreasing from an average age of 14-15 years to 12-13 years,
with some as young as ten. More recent supply and demand for Vapes, Xanax, Nitrous Oxide, Cannabis
Gummies and Lean for and by younger people is emergent in the Borough. The price and purity of
Class A drugs remain relatively unchanged, indicating a stable supply.
Young women continue to be used in gang activities and are at risk of criminal and sexual exploitation.
Fewer support interventions are reported for young women and girls.
More established gangs who operate the drug business are relatively unaffected by the imprisonment
of gang elders. Succession and logistics are planned and communicated in and from the prison estate
(see accompanying HMPPS report). A newer franchised distribution model of drug supply is beginning
to emerge. Gang involvement in Darkweb procurement of drugs and use of crypto-currencies is a
There is evidence of diversification of gang criminal business in Waltham Forest, including extortion
and money laundering. Embedded gangs are linked to Serious Organised Crime Groups and
sometimes shade into the role of middle-market drug brokers.
Waltham Forest has a highly skilled workforce based in statutory and voluntary sectors; individuals are
committed to reducing gang-related harms and safeguarding vulnerable and young people. Many of
the challenges encountered by practitioners relate to deficits in resources. However, some established
working methods need to be more suitable to address group-influenced risks and harms occurring in
The police sometimes struggle to maintain legitimacy with some communities but are considered
valuable partners by other professionals in the Borough of Waltham Forest. However, intelligence
cycles and regional capacity to assist specialist operations require improvement.
School and college exclusions continue to hinder inclusive preventative strategies for early help
strategies. Retention of permanent social work staff was a particular problem. The lack of a specialist
adolescent team needs redress. The voluntary sector provides a significant resource for outreach
and detached work. However, policymakers only sometimes included voluntary sector partners when
planning strategies or giving sustainable contracts for longer-term work.
Waltham Forest is developing more localised services, and Youth Hubs will be part of this strategy.
Youth Hubs could provide safe spaces for young people and co-locate dedicated multi-agency
gang desistance teams seconded by different agencies to provide universal and targeted youth
and community services. These services would be part of a strategic response characterised by
suppression, social intervention, organisational development and the provision of social opportunities
outlined in the following report.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: child exploitation, criminal exploitation, county lines
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Business & Applied Social Science > Department of Applied Social Sciences
Depositing User: David Upson-Dale
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2023 13:37
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2023 13:37
URI: https://oars.uos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3492

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