Parents and carers in Cleveland are being offered free awareness raising sessions to help them keep children and young people safe from exploitation.
The virtual sessions will enable parents and carers to spot the signs of modern slavery and exploitation, specifically child criminal exploitation (CCE).
Experts from children’s charity Barnardo’s, Cleveland Police’s Complex Exploitation Team and training providers Edge NE will provide crucial information on what exploitation looks like in Cleveland.
The online conversation will help understanding about grooming techniques used by organised crime groups to lure children into criminal exploitation and County Lines.
The webinars have been funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) after a successful bid secured £3,000 from the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Programme (MSOICP).
These sessions will build on the existing work undertaken by Barnardo’s Tees Valley and the OPCC to train professionals in the criminal exploitation of children.
Nationally, 274 County Lines cases involving young people were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in 2017. That figure increased to 1,020 in 2019.
Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, Lisa Oldroyd, said: “Parents and carers know children best, which is why we need them on board to spot unusual behaviours.
“This might be going missing for prolonged periods of time with no explanation, having unexplained gifts or money from an unknown source or simply changing the way they interact with their family and friends.
“By increasing awareness of the tactics organised crime groups use to entice young people, we stand a chance of intervening to safeguard and prevent people being drawn into serious crime which puts young lives at greater risk of violence and other harmful behaviours or can have devastating consequences
Consultant Social Worker and Trainer at Barnardo’s, Sarah Pritchard, said: “For the last 18 months, we have focused on training with professionals so they are confident in identifying and intervening when a child is at risk.
“Parents and carers need to be given as much information and support as possible, they are part of the solution.
“Our children in Cleveland are not for taking, and we need to all work closely together to keep our children protected”.
The free webinars will take place on:
• Tuesday 9 March: 7pm – 8pm
• Wednesday 17 March: 7pm – 8pm
• Thursday 25 March: 7pm – 8pm
Places on each course are strictly limited so early booking is advisable.
Clear guidance will be provided on what parents and carers need to do if they are worried about a child, including how to access the right help at the right time.
Follow-up resources will be provided to help build parents and carers’ confidence in having conversations with their child about tricky subjects like drug running, debt bondage and sexual exploitation.