COUNTY lines drugs gangs are being tackled by a scheme that helps vulnerable youngsters.

Shropshire Council’s Early Help scheme helps ease the pressure on children’ social services by intervening and offering help and services at home.

Fran Doyle, who runs the service, said the scheme has proved to be a major success and has already helped hundreds of people.

The scheme can intervene at any point asked to help with any problems young people can suffer from.

She told a meeting of Shropshire Council’s People Overview Committee that the scheme had already helped 3,200 children.

She added that the scheme has helped keep an eye on potential county lines gang recruitment and preventing exploitation.

County lines is where criminal gangs set up a drug dealing operation in a place outside their usual operating area.

Gangs will move their drug dealing from big cities to smaller towns in order to make more money. This can have a really big effect on the community who live there and bring with it serious criminal behaviour.

Ms Doyle said: “We have had two consultations with the public since being set up by the council’s Cabinet and there are seven hubs countywide.”

She said there are two hubs in Shrewsbury and further hubs in Oswestry, Market Drayton, Whitchurch, Ludlow and Bridgnorth.

“We have been busy helping with drug and alcohol support, mental health services, public health nursing, midwifery services and support.

“We have supported 3,200 children and in the last 12 months 220 children have used our service rather than relying on children’s social services.

“We go into people’s homes and help them if needed. We have a Facebook, Twitter and can be contacted via social media and the internet.

“We then go and meet them in their home and help. This has already helped in terms of county lines and exploitation.

“It flags up if there is a potential problem there. It helps us to predict and manage demand.”

Councillor Cecelia Motley, for Corvedale, said she was worried about access to the service in rural south Shropshire.

“Are people able to access you because the south of the county is so vast and wide and has mobile and broadband access issues,” she asked Ms Doyle.

But she replied: “We have had no problems with that so far. We have a good online presence and have reported no problems.

“We also go to people, into their homes, so they don’t need to come and see us.”