OVER £40,000 has been awarded to a charity to deliver crime awareness sessions in schools across Hampshire.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones awarded St Giles Trust with the £47,000 funding which will now be used to deliver County Lines, Child Criminal Exploitation, Knife Crime, Organised Crime and Gang Culture awareness raising sessions.

Working with pupils in years six and seven as transitioning years between Primary and Secondary School, the aim of the programme is to provide young people with knowledge and tools to continue to make positive lifestyle choices away from criminality as they enter adulthood.

In Hampshire, young people who are exploited are an average age of 14 and across the county between April 2020 and March 2021, there was a total of 1,157 known offenders that have carried out drug offence with 13.6% of offenders being aged between 10 and 17 years old.

Commissioner Jones, said: “Gangs dealing drugs is not a new issue but the extent to which criminal exploitation of children, as well as increasing use of violence, has become an inherent part of county lines makes it especially damaging.

"Raising awareness at an earlier age of the tricks that are used by these gangs to draw children in can help prevent them from getting involved, being exploited and being in danger of committing, or becoming a victim of, violence.

"This is an absolute area of focus for me as I want to support young people to stop them becoming involved in crime and the criminal justice system. ”