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Child Criminal Exploitation

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Vulnerable young people may be exploited into criminal activity or violence by other young people or adults who are able to coerce them to do so . Any sudden changes in a young person’s lifestyle should be discussed with them , and the following signs may be cause for 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
  • 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

If you are concerned that a child is being exploited please contact the Front Door for Families on 01273 290400

If they are in immediate danger call 999


Operation Rattle

Locally Sussex Police, Children’s services and partners across the city are working to safeguard young people and build on the existing good work around CSE, to prevent young people experiencing any form of exploitation. Whilst the most familiar form of exploitation is CSE, they are also working to protect young people from exploitation in regards to drug dealing, building up drug debts or bonds, being drawn into serious criminality themselves and pressured into carrying weapons or into sexual activity.

Professionals, parents and children themselves may hold vital information around those individuals who are dealing drugs and those children who are being exploited in some way. If this information can be gathered, channelled and properly assessed then we can improve the wellbeing of all children in our city. You can help in passing relevant information to agencies who are charged with safeguarding our children, and help us focus on the most vulnerable and target those causing the most harm.

Call Sussex Police on 101 and quote Operation Rattle or via the Sussex Police website, to share any information you hold.

Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance
County lines is the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money. Gangs establish a base in the market location, typically by taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.

County lines is a major, cross-cutting issue involving drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons; and the response to tackle it involves the police, the National Crime Agency, a wide range of Government departments, local government agencies and VCS (voluntary and community sector) organisations. County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities