The new campaign has been launched across Greater Manchester today working to put a stop to criminal gangs grooming children and vulnerable adults to commit crime.
‘Trapped’ is a form of criminal exploitation and sees offenders moving children or vulnerable people for the purposes of selling drugs. They could be trafficked around the local area, or taken to areas with no obvious links or connections.
Victims could also be criminally exploited and forced to carry out other crimes such as arson, violent offences, criminal damage, assault or robbery. They could also be forced to store firearms or money.
Thehas been initiated by Programme Challenger – Greater Manchester’s partnership approach to tackling serious organised crime – will see police, local authorities, criminal justice agencies and the voluntary sector workingtogether to tackle and raise awareness of criminal and sexual exploitation and how to report it.
This partnership approach will include the introduction of a specialist, co-located, multi-agency ‘Complex Safeguarding Team’ in every borough across Greater Manchester, building on the work of Programme Challenger and focusing on all aspects of exploitation in addition to supporting victims and disrupting and apprehending those responsible.
The latest campaign features two short films ‘County Lines’ and ’The Present’ that highlight the different ways in which victims can be coerced to carry out criminal activity including arson, violent offences, storing firearms, holding money, criminal damage or assault.
Recognising that victims may feel ‘Trapped’ and need support to find a way out the campaign will use a series of posters, leaflets and social media channels to help raise awareness of the crime across Greater Manchester and ensure that victims and communities feel confident about identifying and reporting their concerns.
GMP’s Assistant Chief Constable Mabs Hussain said “Criminal exploitation is an abhorrent crime that prays on children and vulnerable adults and we will continue to do everything in our power to support victims and bring those responsible to justice.
“Those subjected to this form of exploitation are victims, not criminals and I want to reassure anybody who feels trapped that there is a way out.
“This campaign will help people recognise when they or a loved one are being targeted for exploitation, giving advice on how to get help and report it. Effective action to tackle this issue relies on early reporting so I would urge anyone with any concerns to get in touch”
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Bev Hughes, said: “Criminal exploitation is a vile form of modern slavery, where people are treated as commodities. Children and vulnerable adults are being exploited, threatened and trapped by organised crime groups to do their criminal work. It must be stopped.
“I am proud to be supporting this campaign and the ongoing positive work which is being carried out across Greater Manchester to protect those who find themselves ‘trapped’ and raise awareness of criminal exploitation.”
Lucy Dacey, who manages The Children’s Society’s national Disrupting Exploitation programme – which supports children and young people at risk of exploitation in Greater Manchester – said: “These are not children out looking for trouble – they are vulnerable young people who are being groomed and exploited and the stories we hear are absolutely heartbreaking.
“After being groomed by promises of a glamorous lifestyle or financial rewards, they become trapped in criminal activity like carrying drugs or stashing weapons, with threats of violence and even sexual abuse if they do not comply.
“These young people may not recognise they are being exploited or may be too scared to ask for help. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to raise awareness of the signs of exploitation not just among children and young people, but also parents, carers, professionals and in the community.”
Signs that a young or vulnerable person could be ‘Trapped’ and need help are:
- Young people going missing / travelling to areas where they have no obvious links or connections
- Unexpected, repeated or prolonged absence from school
- Money, clothes or accessories which they are unable to account for
- Receiving an excessive amount of texts and phone calls
- Relationships with controlling / older individuals or groups
- Carrying weapons
- Significant decline in school results / performance
- Self-harm or significant changes in emotional wellbeing – appearing withdrawn, anxious or depressed
Anyone with concerns either about themselves or somebody else should contact Greater Manchester Police on 101 or via the LiveChat facility on the GMP website in a non-emergency situation
Report anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Young people can also report anonymously via the Fearless website (the Crimestoppers brand for young people)https://www.fearless.org/en/give-info