'I didn't know' campaign launched in Cornwall

As parents gear up for six weeks of summer holidays across Cornwall; shops, cafes and leisure sites are being asked to look out for the signs of Child Sexual or Criminal Exploitation or CE. The teams from Safer Cornwall and Our Safeguarding Children Partnership have been touring towns across the Duchy providing leaflets and other information and advice to members of the service and retail industries.

The work is being done as part of the ‘I didn’t know’ campaign a nationwide initiative to raise awareness of child exploitation and it will focus on how to spot the signs, how to report it and how to gain support.

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Community Safety Officer for Safer Cornwall, Sarah Necke, said: “People working in either retail or the service industries are uniquely placed to spot when a young person could be being exploited. Evidence shows that public locations can be used as locations to meet, groom and exploit children and young people, both female and male.”

Child exploitation  is illegal activity by people who have some form of power or control over young people and who use that to exploit them.  This could be through sexual exploitation as well as criminal exploitation such as using children and young people to move drugs around for adults. The multi-agency  team will be providing leaflets, posters and advice about what child exploitation is and how to spot the signs. 

Sarah continued: “Staff in shops and cafes are in a unique position to notice when someone or something seems unusual, and by passing on their concerns to the police, they could potentially save a child from exploitation who may be too terrified to ask for help, or not realise they are being exploited.”

Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, Rob Nolan, said: “Whilst the issue of child sexual and criminal exploitation has gained a higher profile, there is still much more work to be done. We hope that retailers will embrace this message and support this campaign, because they are in the right place to spot something which may be suspicious and that could save a young person from being exploited.”

For more information on Safer Cornwall, please visit www.safercornwall.co.uk