SEFTON SCP Safeguarding Policies and Procedures Online Manual

    10.1. Children at Risk of Criminal Exploitation - Introduction

    Last updated 12/11/2018

    This procedure should be read in conjunction with Section 5 'Contextual Safeguarding'

    10.1. Children at Risk of Criminal Exploitation - Introduction

    The safeguarding risks posed by serious and organised crime and criminal exploitation are a concern for Sefton. Gang culture has become a persistent problem recently and is a major issue for all agencies working to safeguard children. The aim of anyone involved in working with children and young people in this cohort should be to protect them from harm and neglect.

    This protocol refers to children and young people but it is recognised that vulnerable adults may also be targeted by gang members or associates, and require statutory intervention. Adult girlfriends, sisters and mothers of gang members are at particular risk of violence, especially sexual violence, and young people will require protection during transition from child to adult hood.

    Sefton’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board has identified a number of areas for consideration when managing safeguarding concerns relating to the exploitation of children in the context of serious and organised crime. These include:

    • A multi- agency approach with joined up planning around the child/young person
    • A thorough risk assessment based on the signs of safety model that all agencies understand and support to mitigate risks
    • Improved understanding across agencies of the risk factors relating to criminal exploitation of children and how to recognise them.

    The most significant and well known gangs are primarily located in the South of the Borough however, there is gang activity in other areas and this often crosses geographical boundaries. What is becoming more apparent is that younger children are being drawn into the gang lifestyle for a number of reasons including; peer pressure, familial connections, protection due to their post code and the perception that the lifestyle brings wealth. Criminal exploitation can lead to a life of entrenched offending and escalation within criminality is often speedy.

    Of significant concern in Sefton is the familial impact of gang activity. Many young people report becoming involved in gangs due to experiencing older siblings, fathers or mothers being actively involved or associating with gangs. The risk is also prevalent to younger children who may not be at an age to actively become involved in the activity but are at risk due to their living situation and family members being involved in gangs. This increases the potential risk of harm to these children both in their community and in their homes due to the risks associated with gang activity. Research has identified that poor parenting capacity and chaotic home environments, often linked with indications of neglect (see SCP Neglect Strategy) are a significant risk factor for young people becoming involved in gangs. Gang members target vulnerable young people by offering them “something” (i.e. food and money) that is absent in the home. The young people may see this person as someone who ‘cares’ as they are providing them with things that they do not get from their parents. This is just one process of recruiting young people into gangs by using grooming methods. Absent fathers and a lack of a positive male role model is also a significant risk factor. Older gang members present themselves to young people as offering ‘guidance’ and they fill the gap in this young person’s life.

    Gang related sexual exploitation is a wide-spread national problem and is a growing area of concern which presents significant safeguarding implications for both children and adults. The ROTA report ‘Female Voice in Violence 2011’’ recommended that gang related exploitation and violence should be seen as a child protection issue. Many young people are at risk of being exploited both violently and/or sexually due to their family and peer gang associations. Many of these women do not recognise that they are a risk and may ‘idolise’ the male gang members who they perceive as having ‘status’ and ‘wealth’. Others may not be able to see any safe way out and know that the repercussions of telling anyone about what is happening will result in further rape, physical violence or the lingering emotional effects of being branded or gossiped about by their peers.

    There is a common thread of child sexual exploitation running through this work and in recognition of this the Children at Risk Multi Agency Conference (CARMAC) and the Sefton Multi Agency Child Sexual Exploitation Panel (MACSE) have been amalgamated to and are now referred to as the Sefton Multi Agency Child Exploitation Panel (MACE)

    There is also a formal link between the Sefton Safer Communities Partnership, Sefton Multi Agency Response to Serious and Organised Crime (MARSOC), Multi Agency Child Exploitation Panel (MACE), and Sefton’s Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (SSCP).


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