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Property Guardians: Exploitation

Question for Home Office

UIN HL6612, tabled on 8 July 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to pursue organised criminal gangs who exploit (1) property guardians, and (2) all those living in a property under a licensing arrangement.

Answered on

22 July 2020

We are determined to crack down on the county lines gangs who are exploiting our children and have a devastating impact on our communities.

That is why we are delivering a £25m programme of investment to surge our activity against these ruthless gangs. Our overall package, launched in October last year includes:

  • expanding the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre;

  • increased disruption on the rail networks by the British Transport Police’s County Lines Taskforce;

  • targeted operational activity against high harm lines in the three major exporting force areas (Met Police, Merseyside, West Midlands);

  • investment in new technology including Automatic Number Plate Recognition;

  • increased support for victims.

In respect of property guardians, local authorities have strong enforcement powers and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) published consolidated enforcement guidance for local authorities in April 2019 which sets out their duties when dealing with property guardian properties, including those on a licence agreement. This was accompanied by guidance for renters. MHCLG has also published a property guardian factsheet to help potential or current property guardians to understand their rights.

Additionally we are aware that Housing Associations are using their local knowledge to spot early signs of abuse and exploitation that could be linked to county lines.

Answered by

Home Office