County Lines drugs gangs targeting Oswestry schoolchildren
County Lines drugs gangs have been targetting and attempting to groom pupils on their way home from schools in Oswestry, parents are being warned.
A joint letter signed by headteachers of the Marches School, and a host of primary schools in the town has been sent to parents, warning them that young people are being offered drugs on their way home from school.
The letter, seen by the Shropshire Star, explains that the schools are working with the police to address the issue.
The letter says: "As a collective of schools educating the students in this community from nursery age through to 18, we wish to raise your awareness of an issue facing our young people that you may not be aware of.
"Currently there are a number of groups active in the Oswestry area and evidence that some young people are at risk of being groomed and exploited to take part in criminal activities including drug taking, associated with what is known as 'County Lines'.
"We are aware of vulnerable young people openly being offered drugs on their way home from school, a first step in the grooming process.
"Here in our schools, we know what is going on and are working closely with the police and the council to keep our young people safe.
"We do not accept this situation. We are working hard to ensure that our school environments are safe, drug-free spaces for our students, with age appropriate education programmes to give students the skills to make good choices and to keep themselves safe."
County Lines gangs are used to bring illegal drugs into the area, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
Over the past year a number of arrests have been made in Shropshire and Mid Wales, as West Mercia Police attempts to stamp out the gangs.
Headteachers at The Meadows Primary School, Woodside Primary School, Our Lady & St. Oswald’s Catholic Primary School , Morda C of E Primary School, Whittington CE Primary School, Trefonen CE Primary School, Holy Trinity C of E Primary School and Bryn Offa CofE Primary School have all co-signed the letter.
They have vowed to take a hard stance on the issue, and have asked any concerned parents to raise the matter with their school.
The letter also states: "We will always take a hard line on any breaking of this ethos, whilst supporting vulnerable students in our care.
"We are mindful of the fact that this is a shocking subject to raise with our families, however we believe we have a duty to inform you to allow you to discuss the dangers with your child to help to keep them safe.
"If this letter or the web page guidance raises any concerns for you about your child, please do get in touch with your school."