Child exploitation campaign reaches 3.5 million people
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On Child Exploitation Awareness Day 2021 Leicestershire Police and the Violence Reduction Network can reveal that its powerful campaign – ‘Are you Listening’ has reached over 3.5 million people and more than 1,400 'trusted adults' have signed up to attend its training workshops.
On Child Exploitation Awareness Day 2021 Leicestershire Police and the Violence Reduction Network can reveal that its powerful campaign – ‘Are you Listening’ has reached over 3.5 million people since it launched and more than 1,400 people have signed up to attend its training workshops.
Aimed at ‘trusted adults’ the campaign is designed to raise awareness of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) which is when a child or young person is targeted by an individual or criminal gang and manipulated or coerced into committing crimes.
The Violence Reduction Network (VRN) was established by Lord Willy Bach, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire. It brings together specialists from a range of sectors including policing; health; education; local authorities; criminal justice and local communities. The VRN funded a film called ‘Are You Listening?’ which launched in November 2020 and has, in just three months, been viewed by 1 million people. The VRN has also been approached by 10 forces across England and Wales to inquire about adopting the campaign as well.
Across the UK the issue of CCE is considered to be a growing child protection concern and is a current national policing priority. In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, police, social care and health staff work together as part of a multiagency safeguarding hub which works with children and their families at risk of both criminal and sexual exploitation.
As well as producing the film, Leicestershire Police run two workshops a month for teachers, parents, sports coaches and anyone else who works with young people to help them recognise the signs of exploitation and encourage them to act immediately if they have information or concerns.
So far 435 people have attended a workshop, with 1,000 people on the waiting list. As a result of the high demand an extra 50 places were added to each workshop and they filled up in less than 24 hours.
Detective Chief Inspector Helen Fletcher, the force’s child exploitation and safeguarding lead, said; “The popularity of the workshops, which are always oversubscribed, shows that there is a real thirst for knowledge among adults who work with children and young people to understand the signs of child exploitation and know how, and where, to get help. These adults play a crucial role in prevention as we know many young people often don’t realise they are being exploited or are too scared to ask for help.
“Everyone has a role to play in raising awareness of child exploitation and CEADAY21 is a great way to highlight the issues and encourage everyone to think, spot and speak out again abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with young people.
The most common type of crimes children are being used for are the selling and holding of drugs - often as part of ‘County Lines’ activity, carrying and storing money and weapons and committing theft, burglary or robbery.
Grace Strong, Strategic Director of the Violence Reduction Network, said; “Exploitation is devastating for children, families and communities. Partners within our local multi-agency safeguarding hub are working hard to protect children and young people from harm. However, trusted adults working within a variety of settings can also play an important role. This film aims to raise awareness and empower these adults to be active bystanders, understanding the signs and taking appropriate action if they are concerned about a child. I would urge all adults to take just three minutes today and watch the film so we can all play our part in keeping all children and young people safe.”
To raise awareness of the issue on #CEADAY21 people are being encouraged to write key messages on their hands and post the pictures on social media with the hashtag #Helping Hands.
Anyone who has information should call police on 101 or report their concerns online. For more information visit www.leics.police.uk/areyoulistening