Knowsley Council’s Cabinet has heard how the council and its partners work together to tackle Child Criminal Exploitation in the borough.
The council’s Children Scrutiny Committee presented its Prevention of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) report to members this week. The review outlined what child criminal exploitation is, what it looks like in Knowsley and the range of initiatives developed to help support children and families affected by the issue. It also made a number of recommendations to further enhance the local work currently underway.
Members heard that Knowsley was the first local authority in England to have a Child Exploitation Policy and the first to make the shift in thinking about CCE as a safeguarding issue rather than a youth crime issue.
The report revealed how organised crime groups (OCGs) across the region are able to lure and entrap vulnerable young people to become involved in criminal activity, including ‘county lines’ drug trafficking.
Committee members met with members of the multi-agency Shield team, Youth Offending Service, Early Help and Family First and Crime & Communities Team, and heard from police officers, social workers, and personal advisors about their work to support children and families who are victims of CCE.
Report Recommendations Agreed by Cabinet
- To explore more long-term funding for the Shield Team, as it is currently funded on a temporary basis.
- Support the ongoing development of a specialist Prevention Team to provide a co-ordinated approach to prevention.
- Further training for teachers and professionals in dealing with children at risk of CCE, including awareness raising aimed at primary school pupils in years 5 and 6, as well as care leavers.
- The creation of a dedicated community engagement role within the prevention service to support third sector organisations.
- To launch a programme of community awareness raising, highlighting the common signs of CCE and encouraging the public to view CCE as a child safeguarding issue rather than criminality. This would include raising awareness of services and agencies that can be accessed for support, as well as the creation of a prevention website.
- Further work with education colleagues to ensure schools are confident in referring children who may be at risk of CCE into early help and prevention services.
- Professional wellbeing support be made available for staff working closely with children and families affected by criminal exploitation.
Cabinet also agreed that the Children’s Services Cabinet Member, Cllr Margaret Harvey, would review progress in implementing the recommendations after six and 12 months.
Cllr Harvey said: “Knowsley has always been at the forefront of work to protect and support criminally exploited children – treating this as an important safeguarding issue, not one of criminality.
“As well as recognising the excellent partnership work which is currently supporting children and families, we are committed to supporting further developments – highlighted by the review – which would further enhance the local offer and outcomes for children and families.”
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