Braintree Community Safety Partnership – raising awareness of child exploitation
Business owners around Braintree have been trained to spot the signs of child exploitation in their restaurants, taxis and hotels.
The Spot it Stop it campaign was set up by the Braintree Community Safety Partnership to raise awareness of child exploitation in the town.
The scheme encourages businesses to sign up and receive awareness training on the signs to look out for and how to report any concerns.
Chris English, community safety officer, said: “We had been seeing some cases of child exploitation in the area and so we formed a group to look at early intervention; to establish what we could do to stop it from happening in the first place.
“It’s about raising awareness and encouraging business owners to report any concerns – such as a hotel owner querying why a lone adult may be checking in with a child. Of course, these situations can be innocent, but we have to open our eyes and minds to the fact the young person could be being exploited.
“We want to get in there and stop it before it becomes a big issue.”
Funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC), Community Safety Partnerships bring together councillors, police officers, fire officers, the probation service and other organisations – including Crimestoppers and Neighbourhood Watch – to work on tackling local crime and disorder and reducing reoffending.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is our responsibility, individually and collectively, to prevent child exploitation from happening in our county. We need to be training people to spot the signs of exploitation. Every business and organisation has an individual and collective responsibility and role to tackle exploitation.
“So, it is great to see this work happening in Braintree. With these efforts, there will be so many eyes and ears looking out for the warning signs, there will be no place for child exploitation in the district.”
This year, the partnership in Braintree has been allocated £17,739 from the PFCC’s Community Safety Fund 2022/23.
For the first time, the partnership has changed the way it has set its priorities for the year ahead.
Chris said: “In the past, we have looked at the crime figures to see what they show and set our priorities around them. It was hard for all of our partners to see how they could get involved with combatting crime. We have found that, by talking to our partner agencies, we will get more people involved if we work more positively and look at prevention instead.
“So, this year, we are focusing on protecting the vulnerable, promoting healthy relationships, keeping safe online, building community resilience and promoting safety in our communities.
“It is all about getting as many partners on board to look at early intervention, looking at any gaps in provision and encouraging new ways of working and supporting the most vulnerable in our community.
“It is great that we have all these partners who really want to be involved and attend our meetings. Not one agency can solve these problems.”
The partnership is also funding Next Chapter to deliver a Child to Parent Violence and Abuse course to families of children aged seven to 18, and increased support to those at risk of losing their rented or social housing due to antisocial behaviour, substance misuse or domestic abuse.
Follow the work of the partnership at @BraintreeCSP on Twitter.