DfE announces national unit to tackle child exploitation

By Neil Puffett

| 30 August 2018

A new national unit will be established to help local areas improve support for vulnerable children and young people at risk of exploitation, the Department for Education has announced.

Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said the new unit will help local areas to provide the right support for children at risk of exploitation. Picture: UK Parliament

The new organisation is being funded with £2m of government money to run from 2019 to 2022.

It will provide local safeguarding agencies with expertise, advice and practical support to help stop child sexual exploitation, trafficking, modern slavery and other attempts by criminals to take advantage of vulnerable children and coerce them into crimes like "county lines" drug trafficking, where children and young people are exploited by criminals and used to traffic drugs in rural areas.

National Crime Agency figures published last year show that more than a third (35 per cent) of police forces reported evidence of child sexual exploitation in relation to county lines exploitation.

Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "Exploitation of children in any form is an abhorrent crime and it is deeply saddening that vulnerable children and young people are prey to criminals.

"They are often at risk of multiple threats outside of their family lives, such as child sexual exploitation, gangs and county lines, and the new national unit will help local areas protect them from these threats and get the right support so they have the chance to succeed in life."

The Department for Education is to put a contract to run the new national response unit out to tender.

Click links below for related CYP Now content:

Special Report: Exploitation and Vulnerability

Serious Violence Strategy: experts advocate earlier interventions


Plans for the new unit follow the Home Office's announcement last week that it is awarding £13m through the Trusted Relationships Fund to 11 local authorities across England to help young people at risk of abuse to foster "trusted" relationships with support workers.

The projects will help young people have positive adult role models in their lives, following a review by the Early Intervention Foundation, commissioned by the Home Office, showed that a lack of a dependable adult was often an important factor in child abuse and exploitation cases.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins, said: "This government is committed to protecting children from all forms of exploitation and abuse, be it from county lines, gang activity or sexual abuse.

"This new unit, along with our £13m Trusted Relationships Fund and the Serious Violence Strategy, will provide vital support to children and help steer them away from destructive harms."

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