Topics for this month:

Are you familiar with the term ‘County Lines’?

Criminal exploitation is also known as ‘county lines’ and this can happen when gangs and organised crime networks exploit children to sell drugs. These children are often made to travel across counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs. Gangs are deliberately targeting vulnerable children i.e. those who are homeless, living in care homes or trapped in poverty. These children are unsafe, often unloved, or unable to cope, and the gangs take advantage of this.

The criminals and gangs groom, threaten or trick children into trafficking their drugs for them. They might threaten a young person physically, or they might threaten the young person’s family members. The gangs might also offer something in return for the young person’s cooperation i.e. it could be money, food, alcohol, clothes and jewellery, or improved status, but the giving of these gifts will usually be manipulated so that the child feels they are in debt to their exploiter.

What are the signs of criminal exploitation and county lines?

  • 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 from school, college, training or work
  • Unexplained money, phone(s), clothes or jewellery
  • Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour
  • Using sexual, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know
  • Coming home with injuries or looking particularly disheveled
  • Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.

The Children’s Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity. If you think a young person is in immediate danger ensure you contact the police. If you are concerned about a young person or vulnerable adult’s welfare, please contact JTM’s Safeguarding Officer on 0151 336 9340.

Wirral Safeguarding Board – Survey

The WSCB recently carried out a survey of young people to identify their safeguarding priorities. 602 responses were received and the top 8 priority areas identified were:

  1. Mental ill health received the highest number of votes with 96
  2. Combatting physical abuse received 95 votes
  3. Online Safety received  90 votes
  4. Combatting sexual abuse and exploitation got 70 votes
  5. Bullying and online bullying received 69 votes
  6. Combatting domestic violence received 66 votes
  7. Self-Harm also received 66 votes
  8. Sexting received 51 votes

Young Minds Crisis Messenger

If a young person is experiencing a mental health crisis, they can text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger for free, 24/7 support, by texting YM to85258. Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

Young Minds aim to connect every texter to a trained volunteer in less than 5 minutes to provide support in a crisis. They will listen to the young person and help them to think through how they are feeling, and will aim to help them take the next steps towards feeling better.

Halloween Safety Tips: Wednesday 31st October 2018

Lots of people decorate their doorsteps and paths with candlelit pumpkins for Halloween. They look great, but are an obvious fire hazard. One way to reduce this risk is to

  • use battery operated tea lights. They provide the same effect and substantially reduce the fire risk. LED tea lights are widely available at high street shops.
  • You could also try placing glow sticks or flashing bike lights inside pumpkins to give a more ghostly and spooky effect.
  • Choose the costume carefully. Avoid billowing, long trailing fabric, plastic capes or using bin liners as costumes. It’s a good idea towear natural fibres (such as wool, cotton or viscose) next to the skin, underneath a synthetic costume.

During a fire, synthetic material melts on to the skin and whilst natural fibres are still flammable they do provide further protection between the skin and synthetic material.

  • Keep flowing items like fake hair and capes away from candle and other flames.
  • Keep an eye on children at all times when around lit candles.
  • Teach children how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • If you like to decorate your garden and paths then use flashlights instead of garden candles and lanterns.

Firework Safety: Bonfire Night – Monday 5th November 2018

It is important that fireworks are purchased from a reputable shop to make sure that they conform to British Standards. This means that they should have BS 7114 written on the box. Sometimes shops open up for a short time before Bonfire Night but these may not be the best places to buy fireworks from. Staff in these shops might not be very knowledgeable about using fireworks safely and their fireworks might not meet British Standards.

Don’t buy fireworks from anywhere you’re not sure about, such as the back of a van or from a temporary, unlicensed market stall.

Did you know?…

  • It is an offence to let fireworks off during the night hours of 11pm-7am, except on Bonfire night (midnight), Diwali, New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year (1am)
  • If you are under 18, you can’t: buy the types of fireworks which can be sold only to adults or, have fireworks in public places. If you do, the police can give you an on-the-spot fine of £80.
  • It is against the law to: set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public places. If found guilty by the courts, you could be fined up to £5,000 and can be imprisoned for up to three months. You may be liable for an on-the-spot fine of £80.