Children and young people across Staffordshire could be victims of exploitation at the hands of serious organised criminals. The question we are asking is, “are you listening?”.
Today (date), we are campaigning for greater awareness around the growing risk of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and the signs which you can spot to help identity victims in local communities.
This powerful film, which was originally launched by our colleagues at Leicestershire in November 2020, shows a number of fictional characters who represent real experiences into the world of criminal exploitation in the UK.
Just a couple of minutes long, the film asks people to know the signs and act immediately if they have information or concerns about young people who may not realise they are victims of CCE.
The victims in the film show signs of exploitation which are made obvious to adults, but the adults fail to listen to what they are being told and miss the opportunities to help.
Some of the common signs shown in the film include in ‘normal’ behaviour, including:
increased messages or calls
having new belongings that can’t be accounted for
regular absence from schools, groups or clubs.
Evidence shows children are more likely to open up to an adult they have an existing and trusting relationship with. Children don’t always speak up when they are in trouble, but there are often some clear signs that could indicate they are being exploited. They don’t always see themselves as victims so won’t always act as if something is wrong – which is why we need parents, guardians and adults across Staffordshire to help.
The campaign hopes to show the signs of the problem and highlight crucial ways in which adults, parents and carers can help support victims as much as possible. But, is also great for young people to be clear about the signs and help understand if they or a relative/friend is being exploited in a similar way.
Officers from the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), which is made up of officers from Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire and West Mercia, also launched a crackdown on serious and organised crime this year in an effort to further support CCE victims locally.
These sophisticated groups often look to exploit young and vulnerable people in local communities and force them into criminality through threats, blackmail, violence and coercive control.
These groups plan, organise and commit serious criminal offences across the county, including county lines, illegal firearms, knife crime, human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
We have been working hard with local partners to proactively target these groups, support those who are being exploited and further raise awareness with parents and guardians who might not be aware it’s happening to someone they know.
If you’re concerned about a child who is showing signs of criminal exploitation, report it to us by calling 101.