Catch22’s research, Running the Risks, found that the market in illegal drugs is a key activity for gang-involved children and young people. Children and young people are being recruited to travel to areas away from home to sell drugs. In the worst cases this can be a form of child trafficking as young people find themselves in unsafe environments, completely isolated and with no way of contacting anyone for support.
Our findings informed the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, published in March 2016. The APPG found: ‘Patterns of grooming of children for criminal exploitation are very similar to those of sexual exploitation. In the past, child sexual exploitation was often perceived amongst professionals as the victim’s fault, or due to their risky behaviour. We believe that in some areas of the UK a similar culture currently exists around criminal exploitation by gangs.’
According to Knowsley Council, Merseyside: ‘perpetrators of CCE may themselves be children who are criminally exploited and victims of CCE may also be at risk of becoming perpetrators themselves.’ There is currently no official definition from the DfE of what CCE is and also little understanding of the scale of the problem.
Multi-agency and partnership working across local authorities with a focus on consistent relationships is required to support this group of young victims effectively.
Early in 2017 our Pan-Merseyside Child Exploitation team was asked by Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner to extend their remit to cover CCE, drawing on their expertise of working with those affected by CSE.
The team have worked with local authorities across Merseyside to amend the child exploitation (CE) protocol to include CCE, and supported a revision of CSE referral forms to make reporting CCE concerns easier. There is now a coordinated CE form, risk assessment and pathway to respond to both CCE and CSE.
The team have also raised the profile of the issue, our service manager Ellie Fairgrieve recently appeared on regional TV to talk about CCE:
- find out more about our pan Merseyside service here
We add new materials for professionals who work with children to our Child Exploitation and Missing Poster Hub each month for you to download and share with your networks.