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Child exploitation

New Derbyshire service to support children at risk of exploitation

Young teenage girl sitting doing her homework at home at a desk.

Derby and Derbyshire C.A.R.E.S., commissioned by Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, and Derby City and Derbyshire County local authorities, is Catch22’s latest service addressing child at risk of exploitation.

The service will include long-term interventions to reduce risk and to help young people cope and recover from the impacts of exploitation.In 2019, Derbyshire Police recorded more than 200 incidents related to child sexual exploitation, covering both physical contact and online exploitation.  

Derby and Derbyshire C.A.R.E.S will share resources and teach protective behaviours in schools. By working with young people at risk of exploitation, as well as their parents and guardians, the one-on-one and group support will empower them and their families to stay safe. 

Catch22’s Marc Stevens, Service Manager for Derby and Derbyshire C.A.R.E.S said:

“It is everyone’s business to care about the exploitation of our young people – whether it’s using the most vulnerable people in our communities to commit criminal behaviour or abusing them physically.

“Children are not a means and as adults, we have a responsibility to support victims and their families, to minimise risk, and to do everything we can to prevent this behaviour from occurring.”

Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, added:

“Abuse and exploitation, in any form, is unacceptable and its impact on those who have been victimised in this way can last a lifetime. The fact that children and young people can be treated in this way fills me with horror.

“I think I have a duty to provide these young and vulnerable victims with appropriate support services, that can be tailored to their individual needs.

“You don’t have to report the incident to the police to get support.  While we always encourage people to report such experience to the police, we understand they may be hesitant to come forward if they have to talk to the police first. It’s more important that people get the help they need.

“The service is designed specifically to support those subjected to this type of behaviour. I truly hope it will help them to cope and recover and move forward with their lives.”

Catch22’s Children at Risk of Exploitation (CRE) services include, but are not limited to, victims of child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, county lines, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and child victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Catch22 delivers similar services in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Coventry and in Pan Merseyside. The organisation was the first in the UK to deliver a service which collectively addressed sexual and criminal exploitation, recognising the often overlapping risk factors between the two.

Derby and Derbyshire C.A.R.E.S is commissioned for five years to work intensively with young people across the region.  

The launch comes on National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, delivered by NWG Network, where everyone is encouraged to think, spot and speak out against abuse and to adopt a zero tolerance approach to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children.

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur using technology.

What is child criminal exploitation?

Child criminal exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology. Examples of exploitation are ‘county lines’, when gangs and organised crime networks groom and exploit children to sell drugs.