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Child exploitation

Catch22 recommissioned to support victims of child exploitation across Merseyside

A young boy reads a message on his phone, while his father works on a laptop on the sofa in the background.

Catch22 has secured more than £2.5m of funding from Merseyside’s Police Commissioner in partnership with four of the region’s local authorities, to support young victims of exploitation over the next five years.

Working in Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, the Pan Merseyside Child Exploitation service supports young people affected by both criminal and sexual exploitation. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the country when it was first commissioned, and Catch22 started delivering it, in 2015.

The service provides support for anyone under 18 who has been affected by sexual or criminal exploitation, County Lines and trafficking.

With the funding, Catch22 will carry out comprehensive screening and assessment to identify young people who at risk of exploitation and deliver a programme of intervention and long-term support to ensure they are able to fully cope and recover and reduce any further risk. This includes one-to-one and group work.

They will also deliver training to young people, partners and professionals to raise awareness of the warning signs of exploitation and educate them on how to take action quickly to prevent it and protect a young person who is at risk.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell said:

“Keeping our young people safe is a priority for me and for our local authorities.

“This £2.5m funding package demonstrates how committed we are to improving the protection and care we provide for vulnerable young people in Merseyside, ensuring they don’t fall prey to criminals.

“By pledging to fund this service for five years, we are showing how determined we are to raise awareness of this harmful and insidious crime, prevent exploitation of all kinds and provide high-quality specialist support to any young person who has suffered at the hands of those dangerous individuals who would seek to exploit them for their own gain.”

Catch22’s Director of Young People and Families, Kate Wareham said:

“We’re thrilled to have been chosen to continue delivering what is a much-needed service for some of Merseyside’s most vulnerable and at risk children and young people.

“Over the last six years we’ve successfully helped hundreds of children and their families overcome the devastating effects of exploitation. We’ve also trained hundreds of professionals working with young people on how to spot the signs of exploitation and act quickly.

“We’re proud of the positive impact the service has had and the national recognition we’ve received for our commitment to multi-agency working. We thank the PCC for once again putting her trust in us to deliver – and look forward to helping more young people and their families who, tragically, fall victim to exploitation.”

Catch22 were re-selected following a competitive tendering process and a selection panel consisting of members of the PCC’s office and representatives from Merseyside Police and each of the partner agencies.