Chair's blog

February 2019

The LSCP organised a presentation for elected members this month, to speak about Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE). A number of presentations were given including from West Yorkshire Police and Children and Family Services Perspectives. Hosted by Cllr Lisa Mulherin, the presentation was a brilliant opportunity for us to discuss some of the complex issues around CCE, to answer questions, and listen to any concerns from elected members from all parts of Leeds and all political affiliations.

I try to say it publically whenever I can because it’s worth saying, but without our elected members continued support, in what continues to be very difficult financial times, safeguarding in Leeds would not be as strong as it is from my independent perspective.

I came away from this event ‘buzzing’ with new information, and assured about the creative work being taken forward by colleagues from both West Yorkshire Police, and Children and Family Services. It’s evident that a strong safeguarding partnership for the City in both pursuing and prosecuting criminals whose ‘business model’ is to identify, isolate and entrap vulnerable children, whilst also seeking to prevent exploitation happening in the first place and support those touched by this insidious and cowardly form of abuse.

There are a list of acronyms for us to know here; Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and of course the ‘County Lines’ we hear so much of through the media. In fact I have come to the conclusion that County Lines is quite a conflicted idea, and certainly not as simple as is usually assumed. Similarly attempting to differentiate between different forms of child exploitation is also not especially helpful and, for me, it makes more sense to simply talk about exploitation and abuse.

It’s tempting to think of these criminals as ‘clever’ in doing what they do, and they certainly exhibit a degree of technical competency with information technology. But in fact there is nothing clever about what they do, like all cowards and bullies, they prey on the weak and vulnerable, with a selfish disregard for the profound damage they do to people’s lives.

We have a right to be concerned about how young people can be criminally exploited and the lengths some groups will go to, to hook children in to criminal activity for their own financial gain. However I was extremely reassured to know that as a city we continue to work together to protect the most vulnerable children and to robustly pursue those that seek to harm them.