What is Child Criminal Exploitation?

The latest government guidance for frontline professionals working with children can be found here: Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults September 2018

Child criminal exploitation (CCE) is when children or young people are manipulated or coerced into committing crimes on behalf of criminal gangs or individuals. Historically these children have been criminalised and seen to be making a  choice, however, we are starting to see a welcome shift in perception as seeing these young people as victims of their circumstances and of those who exploit them.

The exploitation of children is a Hampshire Constabulary force priority and work with partners happens every day to keep young people in Portsmouth safer. You can also find out more on the Portsmouth Safeguarding Children website.

Resources for Schools

Here are some signs of an exploited child and here are some posters you could put up in your staff room.

Some potential indicators of county lines involvement and exploitation are listed below, with those at the top of particular concern:

  • persistently going missing from school or home and / or being found out-of-area
  • unexplained acquisition of money, clothes, or mobile phones
  • excessive receipt of texts / phone calls and/or having multiple handsets
  • relationships with controlling / older individuals or groups
  • leaving home / care without explanation
  • suspicion of physical assault / unexplained injuries
  • parental concerns
  • carrying weapons
  • significant decline in school results / performance
  • gang association or isolation from peers or social networks
  • self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being.

A video available on YouTube which depicts county lines style exploitation can be found below:

We also have a video available on YouTube which we commissioned in 2011 called ‘Shoplifting can ruin your life’

Drug dealing and child criminal exploitation – ‘County Lines’

‘County lines’ is a term used to talk about gangs of drug dealers who operate a mobile phone remotely, sending texts to known addicts in the target city. These are usually gangs from cities such as London, Liverpool and Manchester. These gangs force people – including children as young as 14 – to become street dealers and runners in target cities.

Always contact the police if a crime is in progress.

For more advice on the signs of exploitation, visit: https://www.safe4me.co.uk/

You can also contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Children’s Services at Portsmouth City Council also have a dedicated phone number to report concerns relating to the welfare of young people in the city, 02392 688793.