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A County Lines and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) awareness event held last month attracted 228 parents and carers. They were looking to learn more about how to keep their children safe from criminals who exploit, coerce, control, manipulate and use children and young people for illegal purposes.
The online event hosted by PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation) was held on 31st January and featured speakers from Northamptonshire Police, Barnardo’s and PACE.
Detective Inspector Adrian Sharpe from Northamptonshire Police said: “We were pleased that so many people took the time to find out about this topic. Child Criminal Exploitation can take many forms and is a growing issue across the UK and it is happening here in Northamptonshire.
“Although some children and young people are more at risk than others, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from or your social background, children from any community can be groomed into County Lines. We want parents and carers to be able recognise the signs of child exploitation and know what to do if they suspect a child is at risk.
DI Sharpe was joined by colleagues Augusta Ryan and Lisa Curtis from CIRV (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence) which is a multi-agency gang intervention programme designed to reduce gang violence and help those involved in gangs - including County Lines - to live a life free of crime.
County Lines is a form of criminal exploitation in which criminals groom and manipulate children into committing illegal or criminal acts on their behalf, such as drug dealing – meaning the youngsters do most of the work and take the most risk. The 'lines' refer to mobile phones that are used to control a young person who is delivering drugs, often to towns outside their home county.
PACE has plans to do more virtual County Lines and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) awareness events in Northamptonshire.
Detective Inspector Sharpe said: ““We hope more parents, carers and professionals who work with children and young people will join us at future events. We had very positive feedback after last month’s event. 91% of attendees told us they had better awareness of the topic and 84% felt they could now speak confidently to their children about child exploitation – and people told us they were keen to learn more.
“We are planning another online session in March, which will feature Kendra Houseman an ex-gang member and now a trainer and CCE expert, who will share her experience of gangs, exploitation, county lines and safeguarding.”
Details of future sessions will be announced as soon as dates are confirmed.