West Yorkshire Police and partners have launched a new campaign to educate parents and carers about the signs of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and to encourage people to report any concerns.
CCE involves a number of types of crimes which can include drugs, county lines, the carrying of weapons, money laundering and serious acquisitive crime.
Children and young people can be exploited by organised crime groups who build up a friendship, but then force them into criminal activities such as transporting, storing or selling drugs, money laundering and violence.
The young person often doesn’t realise they are being exploited. They are led to believe that the offender is their friend, as they are often offered gifts such as money, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.
Signs to look out for that a young person could be involved in CCE:
A sudden change in attitude, they become secretive or disrespectful.
They start making lots of repeat journeys without any real explanation.
Evidence of travelling to places they wouldn’t normally go, for example used bus or train tickets
They go missing and are found in areas away from home
They have more money and can afford expensive items such as phones or designer clothes
Their appearance may change. They could be wearing new designer clothes or the opposite appear dirty and dishevelled
They could appear to have lots of new friends who are possibly older.
They become distant and there could be signs of harm of depression and they start missing school
There may be many reasons for a change in a child’s behaviour and it may not be anything to worry about. But if you notice a combination of the above signs and you are concerned, it may be time to seek help or advice.
The risks to the young person can range from losing interest in school and friends to sexual abuse or serious injury.
Any child can be targeted by these criminals, regardless of their background or where they live. It is never the fault of the young person or their parents or carers.
If you are worried about a young person that you know, West Yorkshire Police has specially trained officers in Safeguarding Units across the county who can help. You can call 101 or use the online Live Chat function.
If a crime is in progress or there is an immediate danger to life, you should call 999.
For more information and a list of other agencies who can provide help and support visit – www.westyorkshire.police.uk/CCE