TEACHERS are being trained to recognise when pupils are being exploited by drug dealing gangs.

As part of a programme to combat the scourge of county line drug dealing an action plan has been put in place.

County line dealing involves gangs, often armed, coming into town to deal class A drugs and recruit young people to take part.

The initiative has been launched by Southend Council and is one of a number of measures being put in place to help protect the borough’s children.

The council has put in place a violence and vulnerability action plan which has seen dozens of workshops rolled out to schools and other agencies.

Since September, the council has been offering every school in the borough structured lessons and training to staff to ensure they are equipped to identify and tackle issues arising from county lines exploitation.

The council’s new adolescent intervention and prevention team have scheduled knife crime and gang workshops at what was described as a key secondary school and four group sessions have taken place at South Essex College.

The team is aiming to target the four large comprehensive schools and their primary feeder schools in the coming months.

They will also be rolling out online training on gangs and county lines to all frontline staff, including teachers, starting in January.

They hope to have delivered this programme to all secondary schools by April next year.

Southend Council’s chief executive Alison Griffin said: “Southend’s proximity to London has always made it a magnet for tourists, commuters and businesses.

“Conversely, it also attracts an element of criminal activity that wants to exploit our vulnerable young people and adults.

“So our task is to continue to attract the positive attention to Southend while being resolute that criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

“To ensure we protect the borough from violence and criminal behaviour, we have combined the efforts of the strategic partnership boards by establishing a violence and vulnerability strategic group.

“This group draws expertise, knowledge and spheres of influence to create this plan that reflects our determination to keep Southend safe and thriving.”

The council is working with police, hospitals and GPs to raise awareness.