A DETECTIVE leading a campaign educating people on how to identify a young person at risk of criminal exploitation says he will be "watching closely" the success of a new chicken shop box campaign.

The Children’s Society has warned county lines drug gangs, which supply drugs from inner cities to areas like Worcestershire, are targeting children as young as seven.

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The claim that criminal gangs are recruiting children into a life of crime by offering them free food was recently submitted to the youth select committee as part of its investigation into the UK’s knife crime epidemic.

In a bid to stop the criminals, dubbed 'chicken shop gangs', more than 300,000 boxes containing chicken on sale at takeaways nationally, including Dixy Chicken, will carry messages to deter teenagers from being dragged into drug and knife crime.

But the plan came under fire almost as soon as it was announced on Wednesday, with MPs and members of the public labelling it "embarrassing", "stupid" and "borderline racist".

Detective Inspector Chris Watson, who is West Mercia Police's lead for the Get Safe campaign, said it was something he was aware of and would be raising at the next meeting of the campaign with multi agency partners.

DI Watson said: "We will be monitoring the scheme, and its success.

"Chicken shop culture has become big in cities such as Birmingham.

"In Worcester we have a number of independents so I'm not sure how practical and logistical it can be.

"And we have to make sure we spend public money on something that would be a success.

"We need to see the effectiveness, I'd need to see how it would work. I will raise it at the next (Get Safe) meeting - I will watch it closely."

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