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GMP speak with 100s of children to raise awareness of exploitation and grooming

Last week, children from local primary schools were invited to take part in an engaging workshop to increase their understanding and awareness of exploitation.

With the children ready to make the jump to high school, the workshop offered them a safe space to have an open conversation with their peers and run through real life scenarios that they could face, equipping them with the practical knowledge to avoid difficult situations and stay safe.

These were delivered by a GMP detective, a nurse from NHS Children’s Services, and a social worker, all from City of Manchester’s Complex Safeguarding Hub. The games and scenarios gave the children the opportunity to think about the external influences and pressures they may face at high school and in the community, and how best to handle it.

This information could make all the difference when they are going through the transition to secondary school and start meeting new people and finding themselves in unknown situations.

Later that week, we attended local youth centres to speak to young people, aged between 11 to 18, who may be at risk. It encouraged open discussions and normalised the issues that are important for young people to speak about, but also aimed to break down any barriers young people have with police.

The City of Manchester’s Complex Safeguarding Hub is made up of a team of multi-agency professionals dedicated to supporting children thought to be at risk of exploitation or who are currently being exploited within Manchester. The team are co-located with partners and work closely with Social Services, Early Help Practitioners, NHS staff, Children’s Society, Youth Justice, and schools, to ensure that children identified as being exploited are receiving the support, knowledge and safeguarding required to help them recognise and escape from harm.

Detective Inspector Chris Chadderton from Manchester Complex Safeguarding Hub said: “We have taken great strides in our journey to improving our response to child criminal and sexual exploitation, and we regularly run proactive operations in Manchester specifically aimed at preventing young people from becoming victims in the first place.

“We endeavour to break down barriers and build strong relationships and trust between the police and the young people of Greater Manchester. Whilst there will always be offenders who seek to exploit vulnerable young people, our approach ensures that we can identify those involved at the earliest opportunity and collaborate with our partners to ensure effective safeguarding is in place.

“These events are a collaborative effort, the first of many more to come, involving local schools, charities, and our partners, to engage young people in important discussions and equip them with the knowledge to make informed decisions in the future.”

Councillor Garry Bridges, Executive Member for Early Years, Children and Young People for Manchester City Council said: “Sadly, there will always be people looking to exploit children and it is important that children themselves know how to spot the signs to help keep themselves and their peers safe.

"This is not about scaring young people but giving them the confidence and knowledge to address situations they might face.

"It's one of many ways in which the Council, GMP and other partner organisations are working closely together to protect the city's children and disrupt and pursue those who would seek to exploit them." 

Being able to spot the signs of exploitation amongst peers could be the difference for a victim and save a child.

For information about the signs of CSE, alongside links to help and support, visit Child sexual exploitation | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk)

More information about criminal exploitation can be found at Programme Challenger | Greater Manchester Police (gmp.police.uk)

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