Free webinar to help parents spot the signs of child exploitation

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A free webinar to help parents and carers understand and prevent the threat of county lines – the process where criminal gangs exploit young people to store and transport drugs – is taking place next week.

The session, which is on Tuesday, January 18, between 7pm and 8pm, is open to all parents and guardians across the county and is hosted by Bedfordshire Police and the charities Barnardo’s and Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE).

Representatives from all three organisations will be reviewing the processes involved in county lines-related activity and providing information on how criminals look to groom and exploit young people for their own illicit gains. They will also be discussing how to understand the risks to children, spot the signs of exploitation, and providing guidance on how to prevent it happening.

The interactive webinar will also give participants the opportunity to ask questions, share concerns and connect with others.

Detective Inspector Elizabeth Spurling, one of the Bedfordshire Police representatives involved in the session, said: “County lines is something that is unfortunately happening across the county, and sadly Bedfordshire is no different.

“From experience we know that young people from all backgrounds can be susceptible to the grooming processes used by criminals who are looking to exploit children for their own criminal gains, so we want to educate as many people as possible, so they know what to look for.

“The webinar is open to all, so if you’re concerned about a young person in your life who you think could be heading down the wrong path, or just want to understand what signs to look out for, I’d encourage you to join us.”

Lindsay Dalton, PACE’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Parents are our first line of defence in keeping children safe from exploitation. Being aware of the changes that might indicate their child is being criminally exploited means parents get the right support.

“Child exploitation has no place in our society and we need to come together as communities and have open conversations about how children are being hurt so we can keep them safe.”

Anyone wishing to join the session, which is free, should visit bedswebinar.eventbrite.com

The Bedfordshire Violence and Exploitation Reduction coordinates the partnership response to county line and child criminal exploitation here in Bedfordshire.

For more information visit bedsveru.org