Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is a term used to describe when children and young people are manipulated into committing crimes.
People groom boys and girls to do things such as selling or holding drugs, carrying weapons or stealing. The children’s society report that children as young as six can be vulnerable to exploitation by criminals. (Link to children’s society)
Children and young people involved in CCE won’t always act like ‘victims’ because they don’t see themselves that way. This is because they are being made to feel respected and important by the people exploiting them. Some children will also feel like they have no choice and are scared to speak out.
This film ‘Are you listening?’ funded by Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland’s Violence Reduction Network aims to raise awareness of CCE and some of the signs that could show that a child is in danger.
Evidence shows that children are more likely to open up to an adult they have a relationship with and they trust. This can include parents, grandparents and extended family members, teachers or other school staff, sports or leisure coaches and community leaders. We have a responsibility as trusted adults to ensure we are ready to listen.
What to look out for
Here are some of the signs to look out for and what to do if you are worried about a child:
The most obvious sign is a change in a child or young person’s behaviour from what is ‘normal’ for them.
Others might include:
- Distancing from their usual group of friends and mention of older or new friends
- Having a new phone, gifts or money that can’t be explained
- Becoming withdrawn or secretive
- Receiving a large number of calls or messages or being worried about being away from their phone
- A drop in grades and suspension or exclusion from school
- Going missing from home or school
- Involvement in antisocial behaviour
If you think a child could be involved in this type of activity, contact your local police by calling 101 or you can contact your local children’s services
If you think a child is in immediate danger, always call 999.
- The Children’s Society- Are you worried about your child being criminally exploited?
- NSPCC- Criminal exploitation and gangs
- Leicestershire Police- Are you listening?