Quick Links

Quick Links

CCE - Child Criminal Exploitation and Gangs

Criminal Exploitation

Criminal exploitation is child abuse where children and young people are manipulated and coerced into committing crimes. 

The word ‘gang’ means different things in different contexts, the government in their paper ‘Safeguarding children and young people who may be affected by gang activity’ distinguishes between peer groups, street gangs and organised criminal gangs.1

  • Peer group
    A relatively small and transient social grouping which may or may not describe themselves as a gang depending on the context.
  • Street gang
    “Groups of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group's identity.”
  • Organised criminal gangs
    “A group of individuals for whom involvement in crime is for personal gain (financial or otherwise). For most crime is their 'occupation.”

It's not illegal for a young person to be in a gang – there are different types of ‘gang’ and not every ‘gang’ is criminal or dangerous. However, gang membership can be linked to illegal activity, particularly organised criminal gangs involved in trafficking, drug dealing and violent crime.

t’s important to be aware of the risks of criminal exploitation or being involved with a criminal gang. They can use  different tactics to recruit and exploit children and young people, including bribing them with rewards, befriending them, and threatening them, or coercing them.

Dangers of criminal exploitation include:

    • being subject to threats, blackmail and violence
    • being exploited and forced to commit crimes
    • being arrested, including for crimes committed by the gang that they have not directly committed under the law of joint enterprise
    • not being able to leave or cut off ties with the gang
    • having their safety or the safety of friends and family threatened
    • risk of physical harm, rape and sexual abuse
    • risk of emotional abuse
    • risk of severe injury or being killed
    • abusing drugs, alcohol and other substances
    • long term impact on education and employment options.

Government Advice on Gangs for Parents and Carers

County Lines

County Lines it is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs from urban areas into rural areas. The leaders of these gangs will try to exploit children and vulnerable adults, often without them realising it. They often use other people to move and store drugs and money. They can use some very harsh measure to make young people or vulnerable adults help them.

There may be signs of a change in a young person’s behaviour such as:

  • Returning home late, staying out all night, or going missing
  • Being found in areas away from home
  • Increasing drug use, or being found to have large amounts of drugs on them
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
  • Unexplained absences
  • Unexplained money, phone(s), clothes, or jewellery
  • Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour
  • Using sexual, drug-related, or violent language that you wouldn’t expect them to know
  • Coming home with injuries or looking particularly dishevelled
  • Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places

If you are concerned that someone may be subject to Child Criminal Exploitation, Gangs or County Lines, please contact a member of the Safeguarding Team on 01484 222230, or use the ‘Report a Safeguarding issue’ button on the school website.

Further Guidance

 Fearless - Part of Crimestoppers