An innovative scheme to encourage young people to report abuse and exploitation has proved so successful that it has been given external funding to continue for another year.
Placing a Barnardo’s support worker within the Cleveland Police’s Complex Exploitation Team (CET) has encouraged more children and young people to open up about their exploitation and abuse.
As a result of the pilot, Barnardo’s has been able to help and protect 75 children and young people over a nine month period – and police have been able to gain valuable intelligence on those who seek to exploit and abuse them.
Now the post has been maintained for a further year with funding agreed by Cleveland Police from Home Office-backed Project ADDER.
Funding initially came from a successful £232,027 bid to the Home Office’s Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Transformation Fund by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC)
The money allowed the OPCC to fund a Barnardo’s CET worker, who helps staff to engage effectively with children and young people during police investigations.
The CET Worker also supports and encourages children and young people to speak out about their experiences while ensuring they have help and support to recover.
During the pilot, the CET worker provided advice to officers, attended police and local authority meetings and carried out home visits to speak to and support parents, carers, children, and young people.
The Barnardo’s worker engaged with 75 children, 55 of them were male and 20 were female.
Most of the boys were linked by police intelligence to Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE.) CCE includes County Lines, where young people are recruited into the supply chain run by drugs’ gangs. All of the girls were linked to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE.)*
Steve Turner, Cleveland PCC, said: “You cannot underestimate the importance of the work of CET.
“Not only do they help to protect some of the most vulnerable in our communities, but their work helps police gather intelligence to stop the activities of some of the most dangerous people in our communities.
“I am pleased that the Government funding my team secured allowed us to employ the Barnardo’s worker, whose work has proved to be such a great success.”
Mary Robinson, Barnardo’s Children’s Services Manager, said: “Our innovative approach means that we are able to engage young people during very challenging times and we applaud their courage in opening up to us about their experiences.”
The project has helped to improve intelligence from children and young people about abuse and exploitation. Previously most referrals had refused to speak to police.
Having the CET Worker also freed up police time, allowing officers to be deployed in other areas.
It has also provided increased opportunities to give at-risk children easier access to support services.
Chief Inspector Jon Tapper, who heads Project Adder, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to support these vulnerable people as well as disrupting criminal activity.
“This specialist role will be invaluable in supporting the ongoing work to tackle drugs under Project Adder.”