10.2. Protocol Guidance
Last updated 12/11/2018
The most effective method to prevent children becoming criminally exploited is early intervention and prevention. This enables preventative services to be implemented at an early stage to support the young person and their family to make positive life choices and distance themselves from serious and organised crime.
Early Help Assessments are a key tool that can be used for early intervention. The Early Help Assessment can be used by all practitioners to holistically assess, share information and implement appropriate support at an early stage to prevent the escalation of any risk factors or concerns. In undertaking an Early Help Assessment if it is identified that a young person is demonstrating some of the ‘Tell Tale Sign’ behaviours, and there are concerns that they may be on the periphery of serious and organised crime activity, then a referral should be made to the MASH using the Child Exploitation Referral Form (CE1)
The decision to undertake a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting / Case discussion will be made by the MASH team manager. In circumstances where the risk of harm is immediate and imminent Merseyside Police should be contacted via 999. If a safeguarding referral is required to Children’s Social Care then a MARF should also be completed.
Any level of assessment from early help to child protection may identify the presence of a vulnerable adult in the family. They may not be experiencing abuse directly but are exposed to it in their family environment – for example, adult children with a learning disability or an older person who is living in the family home where another family member is the primary victim and is experiencing abuse. It is crucial to recognise that exposure to abuse can, as with children, still present serious short and long term harm to adults. It is also an important reminder that a whole family approach is optimum where both adults and children’s professionals not only address the needs of the person on a care plan but also those of the wider family members by firstly recognising the issue and secondly making appropriate referrals to support vulnerable adults in the household There has been an increase in the exploitation of vulnerable adults by organised crime groups that operate in Sefton commonly known as Cuckooing. The OCG will gain the confidence of the victim, be welcomed into their home and then the OCG will take over the property for a period of time, conducting their business, and eventually move on.