Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP) in partnership with the NSPCC, have today launched a twelve-month long campaign to tackle child exploitation in the county.
The CSCP, which is made up of representatives from Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Morecambe Bay CCG, North Cumbria CCG and other agencies working with children and families, together with the NSPCC, will be launching the ‘It’s not ok’ campaign this month, with an initial focus on child criminal exploitation, before moving on to topics including healthy relationships and online safety.
The county wide campaign will include material aimed at a range of ages and audiences including young people, parents, carers and practitioners, with the aim to make people aware of the signs of child exploitation and how it can be reported, to help reduce child exploitation in Cumbria.
Child exploitation is child abuse where children and young people are manipulated and coerced into committing crime.
Children as young as ten in Cumbria are being put in danger by criminals who take advantage of how vulnerable these young people are.
Gill Rigg, Independent Chair of Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership said: “Tackling child exploitation in Cumbria is a key objective for the CSCP.
“This is an important campaign. We want to get the message out there that any child, in any community is vulnerable to exploitation, this campaign aims to raise awareness of this often hidden crime.
“Together with our partners we are committed to protecting children from harm, and we are working to inform, educate and prevent child exploitation.
“It is important that everyone can recognise the signs of exploitation and know where to turn to for help so that interventions can be put in place at the earliest opportunity. If people know what to look out for, they can take steps to help a child that is being exploited. Everyone in society has a responsibility to do all they can to protect children.
“Together we can support children and parents to be aware of the dangers and know there is someone to talk to if they’re concerned.”
Carla Malseed, Local Campaigns Manager for the NSPCC said: “Child exploitation, in all its forms, is an abhorrent form of grooming and, is why working with partners on this campaign to help protect our children from abuse is so positive.
“The legacy for this campaign will be for all of us to think about, recognise and ultimately speak out against the exploitation of our children, so we can help to protect them and prosecute offenders.
“Exploitation can involve offering children gifts, attention, drugs or alcohol and, unfortunately, the young people may not realise they are being manipulated.
“Like all forms of abuse, we must be clear this is never the child’s fault and this campaign will, we hope, empower them to recognise unhealthy relationships and perpetrators’ grooming behavior.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “Most complaints I receive from the public concern anti-social behavior, driving offences and so on. All important issues, but this campaign highlights largely unseen crime which targets the most vulnerable in our communities.
“Exploitation of children has to be the most despicable and damaging crime and I join with the Constabulary in making it clear we will do all we can to catch and prosecute offenders. The campaign will shine a spot light on child exploitation among children and young people, parents, practitioners and the wider Cumbrian community. It is essential that we highlight how to spot the signs of exploitation and where to report concerns.
“We urge people to report any suspicious behavior to Child-Line or the NSPCC Helpline. The chances are, if it raises concerns and looks dubious, it probably is and this is not an issue with which to take a risk. The message is a clear one, if you see something, say something.”
Materials to support this campaign and further information, can be found by visiting: cumbriasafeguardingchildren.co.uk