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Wiltshire Council joins forces with partners to help combat Child Exploitation

Wiltshire Council is adopting a wider approach to tackling issues around risks outside of the home for children and young people as it joins forces with partners to address issues of exploitation.

Published 17 March 2021
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Wiltshire Council is adopting a wider approach to tackling issues around risks outside of the home for children and young people as it joins forces with partners to address issues of exploitation.

The council is part of an approach called Contextual Safeguarding which looks at the risk outside the home and works on a wide range of initiatives to address and prevent it, engaging with schools, partner organisations and the wider community. Wiltshire Council is at the forefront of the approach engaging with wider organisations and developing our joint approach so that together we can impact on those wider risks.

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

The team expanded just over a year ago to include more social workers, working alongside adolescent support workers and missing children staff to directly address the problems where children are being negatively influenced outside of home life.

The team is already making an impact and using 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.

March 18 is Child Exploitation Awareness Day and people are being reminded that everyone has a part to play in helping combat exploitation. People are asked to report if they see the warning signs.

The signs of exploitation can include:

  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, marks, reluctance to seek medical attention
  • Alcohol drug use/self-harm
  • Unexplained items such as new clothes, money, phones, drugs
  • Change in Friends
  • Change in behaviour - unusually secretive, fearful or withdrawn, aggressive, distanced from family and friends involved in anti-social behaviour
  • Change 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

Lucy Townsend, Corporate Director People at Wiltshire Council said: "We have a range of measures to tackle child exploitation working alongside our partners however this is an area requiring ongoing work to address these issues. Today is Child Exploitation Awareness Day which puts responsibility on all of us to look out for the signs and speak out and report. Our work identifying risk outside the home builds on the approach of bringing organisations, businesses and the wider community together and encourage everyone to play their part in making places and spaces safer for young people."

Mark Gurrey, Chair of Safeguarding Vulnerable People Partnership (SVPP) said: "SVPP recognises CSE and exploitation more widely as a key priority for the partnership and is working to ensure all partners are engaged in the work to prevent, identify and tackle this important safeguarding issue and support the embedding of a contextual safeguarding approach."

Supt Ben Mant, public protection lead at Wiltshire Police, said: "It is a sad reality that children across Wiltshire are victims of child sexual exploitation and this issue is being increased by the prevalence of young people on social media and digital platforms.

"We continue to work with our partner agencies to explore new ways of protecting a child from the nightmare of exploitation, which is one of our main priorities as a Force.

"You can play an important role in helping us tackle this - whether you are a parent, teacher, business or concerned neighbour - by knowing the signs to look out for, keeping an eye on online activity and feeling empowered to report your concerns to us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

"Our message is a clear one, if it doesn't feel right, report it. You may feel like we are too busy or it isn't important but if it stops a child being exploited then it is worth our time."

Contextual safeguarding is a pilot project which Wiltshire Council and partners is working on alongside a number of other local authorities. The project is run by the University of Bedfordshire. More details are available at Contextual safeguarding (opens new window).

For more details on CSE Awareness Day visit NWG: Events - Child Exploitation Awareness Day (opens new window).

To report concerns people can call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0300 456 0108 (out of hours 0845 6070 888). For more information visit Child exploitation and extra familial harm and the STOP CSE website (opens new window).

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