Safeguarding Conference success
At the end of June the safeguarding team at Airedale Hospital hosted their annual safeguarding conference for different agencies throughout the district, including the latest updates from police and charities on protecting children and adults from the effects of the county lines business model.
This fully booked event was organised as part of Safeguarding Week – an annual week of learning events. The conference was opened by Jill Asbury, Director of Nursing and executive lead for safeguarding at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust with the aim of highlighting the dangers around complex safeguarding.
Complex safeguarding is a term used to describe criminal activity involving vulnerable children and adults, where there is exploitation and a safeguarding concern and includes sexual exploitation, county lines, forced marriage and honour based violence, female genital mutilation, modern day slavery and trafficking and radicalisation.
Gina Abrey from Centrepoint in Bradford was the first speaker who talked about “County Lines”. Her presentation demonstrated that County Lines is a highly lucrative illegal business model, involving the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults. County Lines involves criminals from major cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, London and Birmingham setting up illegal drug networks to other areas of the country. A single telephone number is the drug line which is used to order drugs and gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell these drugs across the county line. County Lines is about modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation, alongside drug supply and violent crime. This crime is known to be happening in our region and has seen the local police, social care and health working together to tackle this crime. Children are abused, are known to go missing from home and can often become involved in criminality. The model also uses violence from gang members towards the young person and their family if they do not conform to County Lines.
A police representative gave an excellent insight to the police work around forced marriage and honour based violence. Real life testimonies of victims of forced marriage and their experiences in which they suffered were shared including the dangers young people face if they refuse a forced marriage. Many delegates were shocked that there is no legal age for marriage in United States of America. Importantly a list of dos and don’ts were shared with the delegates present.
Jo Newman Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children presented the findings of her Master’s project. This research was undertaken to explore how safeguarding children work impacted on nurses, and how they were receiving support to manage this work. The research concluded safeguarding children work did have an emotional impact on staff and that this impact can be long lasting. Nurses access support through safeguarding children team, safeguarding children supervision and case discussion. Overwhelmingly staff wanted someone to talk to who was both knowledgeable and supportive.
Delegates attending this conference where left with a reality check following the presentation on cybercrime and the dark web by two PSCO with Bradford District Cyber Team. Their presentation focused on the dangers of the internet and technology for children. Many young children already have access to devices including mobile phones, games consoles, social media and the internet. Concerns highlighted children being coerced by friends and strangers into taking and sending indecent images of themselves with the youngest child known to police being just 7 years old. They gave information of the dangers of online communication which abusers and perpetrators use to target children and young people. There was a display and shared information of the secret apps, icons and emoji’s used in communicating with children to exploit and harm children. The delegates left with a greater awareness of how to safeguard and better protect children and themselves on line.
Overall the conference demonstrated that the gathering of information and sharing of information between agencies can ensure we all play our part in safeguarding, preventing children and adults becoming victims and recognising the perpetrators.
The conference addressed how important it is that professionals are aware of the term Complex Safeguarding and the criminality involved which results in the exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.
Delegates attending this event had a fantastic opportunity to update their knowledge of safeguarding vulnerable adults and children and share this knowledge with their own agencies.
If you are worried about a child’s immediate welfare please contact your local children’s social care service or police (dial 999).
If you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into, contact the Forced Marriage Unit
Telephone: 020 7008 0151, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Out of hours: 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre)
NSPCC (www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/bullying-and-cyberbullying/) websites both have more information about both cybercrime and human trafficking.