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Partnership launch scheme in bid to tackle child exploitation

Partnership launch scheme in bid to tackle child exploitation

Child exploitation 'Spot it Stop it' launch by Community Safety Partnership

A new scheme to raise awareness of child exploitation has been launched by Braintree District Council & Braintree District Community Safety Partnership in a bid to prevent, identify & tackle the issue

The ‘SPOT IT STOP IT’ scheme was introduced to help businesses spot the signs of exploitation and show that their premises are a safe place for children and young people to visit. It is also to reassure parents, carers and the public that those who have signed up to the scheme take their responsibility for their customers and the wider community seriously.

Over 70 members of staff from hotels and fast-food businesses including McDonalds, Cineworld, Pizza Hut, Freeport Braintree, Premier Inn and Holiday Inn have been trained to understand child exploitation, the signs to look out for and how to report concerns, with more training booked for other businesses.

Councillor Wendy Schmitt, Cabinet Member for Community Safety at Braintree District Council, said: “Child exploitation is where an individual or group manipulate or deceive a child into something for their advantage. It is a really important issue which can cause serious harm to the person and something one organisation cannot tackle in isolation - that’s why we are working closely with partner organisations so we can together play a positive role in safeguarding children, raising awareness of the issue and making our communities safer.

We all have a duty and a responsibility to ensure we do everything we possibly can to keep children safe, so we hope that this scheme will help more people spot the signs and show them where they can go to seek help and support.”

Phil Picton, Independent Chair, Essex Safeguarding Children Board, said: “The ‘Spot It, Stop It’ scheme, developed by Braintree Community Safety Partnership, is an innovative programme tackling community safety and raising awareness of risks to young people such as from child exploitation and trafficking.  We welcome and support local programmes like this and we hope that many businesses will see the benefit of adopting the standards within the scheme.”

Chief Insp Craig Carrington from Essex Police, said: “Children and teenagers who are at risk of sexual or criminal exploitation don’t always see themselves as victims because the people taking advantage of them are manipulative.

“Some may also be afraid of telling anyone because they’re afraid of getting into trouble. So it’s vital that we can all spot the signs a young person may be vulnerable so that together we can all help protect them from harm.

“Staff working in our local businesses play an important part in this because they work in the heart of our community and see hundreds, if not thousands, of people a day.

“However, we must all be vigilant. If you see something that doesn’t feel right, please report it. It could make all the difference to a child’s life.”

Cherry Lewis-Taylor, McDonald’s franchisee, said: “I am delighted that I and my staff are involved with this significant campaign to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation and grateful to have had the opportunity to train so many key employees in how to help protect the young people in our area.”

Jenny Beverley, Freeport Braintree, said: “The Centre Management team and staff at the centre are very proud to be working closely with the team behind such a significant campaign for Essex. We welcome the opportunity to work together with other likeminded local businesses to ensure our premises are a safe place for our customers to enjoy.”

Spencer Clarke from Chelmsford Community Safety Partnership, said: “This campaign is an excellent example of how to engage the business community in safeguarding and encourage social responsibility. Exploitation is a hidden harm which needs to be addressed in all communities but this project targets likely areas where young people meet and congregate. We will following Braintree’s lead and will be rolling out this project in Chelmsford and Maldon during the coming year to ensure that Mid-Essex is a safer place for young people to live and socialise.”

The Braintree District Community Safety Partnership is made up of Braintree District Council, Essex Police, Essex Fire & Rescue Service and other services who are all committed to reducing the risk and impact of hidden harm in the Braintree District.

Businesses can sign up to the scheme by contacting Braintree District Council on communityservices@braintree.gov.uk or visit www.braintree.gov.uk/spotitstopit