423 participants joined the panel of:
- Donna Smalley, Service Manager, CSE and Missing Multi-Agency Team, Leicestershire County Council
- Robert Buckley, Detective Sergeant, Exploitation Team, CCE Lead, Leicestershire Police
- Kieran Breen, CEO of Leicestershire Cares
- Moderator: Dr Ana Oprea, Lead Social Care L&D Hub, De Montfort University
for a lively discussion and the topics covered included;
County Lines is a growing problem, with ruthless gangs targeting, isolated and vulnerable young people.
Covid 19 has disrupted the supply chains of illegal drugs making gangs even more ruthless as they fight to control their markets.
The problem is everywhere and we are seeing gangs operating locally, even in affluent areas and more use of young women.
Young people who are SEND, have mental health issues or living in insecure accommodation are often targeted.
The predicted rise in youth unemployment could well lead to an increase in vulnerable young people who could be exploited.
Social media is increasingly used to recruit young people.
Failings include victims being prosecuted rather than protected, school exclusions leading to more vulnerable young people and general lack of training and awareness, for staff, young people and parents.
Donna stressed that;
We need to dare to share, work across multi agency partnerships, regard all exploitation as a safeguarding issue and we must start to build back youth and community groups.
Rob shared that;
The Police seek to prevent, protect and pursue and the key to this is a multi-agency approach.
In the Q&A, participants were keen to know more about training for young people and adults, how the police could ensure they protect rather than punish victims and what projects existed they could learn from. It was noted that locally, approximately 90% of children and young people referred to the CSE were white males. People were keen to know more about signs to look out for such as changes in a young person’s behaviour, a young person having multiple mobile phones, disappearing for hours on end and spending more and more time on social media. Participants also felt efforts had to be made to reach families where English was not the first language with appropriate information.
Concerns were raised about care leavers being moved into unregulated accommodation at an early age and this making them very vulnerable to exploitation from county lines gangs.
This webinar has shown once again how important it is that local government, community and business can work together in agile and creative partnerships that have the best interests of the child at their centre.
Coming up in this series of webinars
- 2nd Mar 2021 Understanding how the digital divide affects young people
- 21st Apr 2021 How can we Build Back Better employment for young people post-Covid?
- 11th May 2021 What have we learned from Covid about the needs of young mothers?
- 18th Jun 2021 Levelling up agenda for young people
For more information on county lines
Partnership campaign to raise awareness of the issue of Child Criminal Exploitation in Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland
The Children’s Society working with the National County Lines Coordination Centre and the British Transport Police to learn the signs of Child Exploitation.
Excellent briefing on how Covid 19 has impacted on county lines.
CCE Concerns: Contact Leicestershire Police on 101 or online www.leics.police.uk . If you suspect that a child is in immediate danger always all 999.
Safety & wellbeing: Contact your local children services office, Leicestershire County Council 0116 305 9521, Leicester City Council 0116 454 1004, Rutland County Council 01572 758 407.