WORK by Swindon PCs aimed at diverting children away from a life of crime has earned the praise of the Home Secretary.

Sajid Javid was at Gablecross Police Station to talk to senior officers and councillors about county lines drug gangs - city dealers muscling in on the Class A trade in smaller cities and towns like Swindon.

The gangs often use children as drugs runners. Police in Swindon have developed an early-intervention programme aimed at encouraging at-risk children, who might come from chaotic homes, against working for the dealers. PCs mentor youngsters aged from four to 17 to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Mr Javid praised the tactic of “intervening early, especially with young people to try and turn them away from a life on crime, whether it’s serious violence, picking up a knife, joining a gang”.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said the force was looking to bid for Home Office cash to support the early intervention schemes run from Gablecross.