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Meet the team offering advice and support to parents and young people on National Child Exploitation Awareness Day

A multi-agency team that works with hundreds of children a year will be sharing their first-hand experiences and offering advice as part of National Child Exploitation Awareness Day.

Published 15 March 2024

A multi-agency team that works with hundreds of children a year will be sharing their first-hand experience and offering advice to parents and young people this month, as part of National Child Exploitation Awareness Day (opens new window).

Wiltshire Council works with Wiltshire Police as part of the Emerald Team to combat exploitation of children and young people.

The support for young people includes working with a range of partners and looking at the various ways to support, including reducing the risk to children outside the home. The team includes social workers, adolescent support workers, missing children staff, and health and other partners.

The team uses resources including closure orders and disruption methods, as well as support and intervention to address risks to children and young people outside the home. There is also a drive to ensure the wider community, including partners and businesses, are involved and playing their part where there are concerns around child sexual and criminal exploitation, drug taking or other issues.

Monday 18 March is National Child Exploitation Awareness Day (opens new window) and the team will be in the Atrium at County Hall in Trowbridge ready to answer questions from the public and offer advice. The annual national day aims to highlight the issues surrounding Child Exploitation (CE), encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero-tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children, or children exploiting and abusing their peers.

The signs of exploitation can include:

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or marks, and reluctance to seek medical attention
  • Alcohol drug use/self-harm
  • Unexplained items such as new clothes, money, phones, drugs
  • Changes in friends
  • Changes in behaviour - unusually secretive, fearful or withdrawn, aggressive, distanced from family and friends involved in anti-social behaviour
  • Changes in appearance, clothing, personal hygiene, talking differently, tired
  • Missing day or night
  • Going to new places
  • Spending more time online, secretive activity, distancing from family and friends and usual activities

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: We need this national day to remind people of the many risks children and young people can face and the part we all have to play in being aware and responding if there are concerns.

The Emerald Team will be in County Hall ready to answer questions and provide advice. This includes looking at the risks outside the home, where we bring organisations, businesses and the wider community together to encourage everyone to play their part in making places and spaces safer for young people. March 18 is the date to highlight the ongoing work that's still needed and how we can all play our part.

Detective Superintendent Angela Shipp said:  Our work to prevent child exploitation is one of our highest priorities in order to protect young victims.  However, we need the public to help our intelligence gathering too. To spot those signs in everyday situations.

Parents need to be aware of their children's activities online.  How do they present themselves to others via social media?  Offenders will prey on those they perceive as available and vulnerable. Is that your child?  Could they be seen as an easy target for perpetrators?

Please remember those wanting to exploit our children appear in all walks of life so we all need to be aware. More information about child exploitation and spotting the signs can be found on our website - (opens new window).

Child Exploitation Awareness Day, supported by us and our partners, encourages everyone to look out for the signs of criminal exploitation and sexual exploitation in young people so we can help and remove them from harm. If you have any information, please report via 101, anonymously through CrimeStoppers and children can report via the NSPCC Helpline.

Wiltshire Council's work on Risk Outside the Home was recognised by Ofsted inspectors recently when Wiltshire Council was judged Outstanding (opens new window). The report says: "children at risk of extra-familial harm, including youth violence, are supported by skilled and tenacious social workers who understand their needs and the risks to them very well."

Wiltshire Council was part of a pilot on Risk Outside the Home (ROTH) led by researchers from Durham University. The Wiltshire ROTH pathway demonstrated the potential for providing a structure through which to co-ordinate social work responses to young people at risk of significant harm outside of the home. This work was quoted in the recent Government paper on Children's Social Care Reform 2023.*

The Emerald Team can provide help and advice if people are worried about themselves or someone else. They can also provide information and support to parents or local businesses. Call: 01225 770290. For emergencies call 999.

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