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Child criminal exploitation is not defined in law, though the government’s Serious Violence Strategy (2018) defines it as occurring where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity: • in exchange for something the victim needs or wants • for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator • through violence or the threat of violence The most common form of child criminal exploitation is ‘County lines”. County lines is defined by the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy (2018) as “…a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas (within the UK), using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of ‘deal line’. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move (and store) the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) or weapons.” There are more than 2,000 County lines organised criminal gangs across England and Wales and gang members can give some children and young people a false sense of belonging, safety, and security, filling a gap that exists in their lives.

Who is County Lines & Child Criminal Exploitation aimed at?

County lines and child criminal exploitation training is for anyone who works within social care, health, education, or voluntary and community organisation who need to gain a broader understand of the issues to prevent or disrupt children and young people from becoming victims of exploitation and abuse.

Course Length

1 day

Learning Outcomes

In addition to understanding the process of grooming, the vulnerabilities of children and young people and gaining an insight into the impact and significance of child criminal exploitation and county lines, we need an increased awareness of strategies for intervention and prevention.

By the end of the course delegates will be able to:- 

  • To understand the definition of child criminal exploitation and the connectivity with County lines, child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
  • To gain knowledge of the grooming process and the business model of County lines.
  • To understand the vulnerabilities of children and young people.
  • To recognise signs and indicators of child criminal exploitation and County lines.
  • To understand the significance of appropriate language and victim blaming
  • To understand the importance of contextual safeguarding
  • To understand the barriers to disclosures and reporting
  • To understand the significance of language and victim blaming
  • To understand the significance of early intervention and disruption
  • To appreciate the importance of recognising, responding, reporting, and referring issues related to child criminal exploitation.
  • To understand the importance of “reachable” and “critical” moments and a child centred approach which reflects the rights of the child.  


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