Virtual conference held focusing on the criminal exploitation of children
12 February 2021
Bradford District Police hosted a virtual conference with the focus on tackling the criminal exploitation of children.
The event has been brought together in partnership with the Violence Reduction Unit, Bradford Council, Bradford Safeguarding Board and Bradford University.
Back in September 2019, Bradford District launched the child exploitation protocol and risk assessment after conversations with partner agencies and the need for increased awareness of this type of exploitation.
The aim of the conference was to assist professionals working with children and help them identify some of the risks and warning signs to look out for in relation to exploitation.
There was a wide variety of speakers including West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson OBE, Zoe Lodrick, Phil Pearce from Life Experiences CIC, Arnold Yousaf from St Giles Trust, Niven Rennie, Director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Sam Keith and Steve Baguley, from Newcastle City Council’s Safeguarding and Children’s Services.
Chief Inspector Steve Greenbank, of Bradford District Police, said: “Today’s event has been a huge success with over 200 delegates tuning in throughout the day to hear from our fantastic range of speakers.
“The conference was meant to take place in March 2020 but due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the event was postponed, rescheduled and now to adhere to the ongoing guidelines and restrictions, was held virtually.
“The ongoing work not only in West Yorkshire but nationally on the criminal exploitation of children is essential for police forces, safeguarding boards and charities gain a further understanding and can work together to safeguard vulnerable children in our communities.”
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson OBE said: “We all know that Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is not something that any one agency can deal with in isolation, it needs to be a collective partnership response.
“By sharing our experiences in this way, we stand a greater chance of raising awareness of the issues and educating our communities about the emerging threats.
“It is vitally important that everyone receives training and is on the front foot in terms of providing a robust and meaningful response to help recognise and prevent such exploitation, and this online conference aimed to ensure a fully co-ordinated approach.”
Jane Booth, Independent Chair of The Bradford Partnership, said: “I am delighted that this conference is able to go ahead despite all the challenges presented by the pandemic and that so many people from around the region are planning to join us. We were ready to run the live event in March 2020 and very disappointed when we had to cancel. We have a great line up of speakers with direct experience of working with exploitation who will share their expertise with us. We are looking forward to welcoming around 300 people to this virtual event and hope that our growing understanding will help us to develop the best services we can to tackle this complex work.
Councillor Adrian Farley, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, said: “It’s really important that, despite lockdown, this conference has taken place. Sadly, criminal exploitation has not stopped because of COVID-19. This conference is one way the Council and partners are working to share the most up-to-date best practice so we can tackle these crimes head on. As well as this conference, we’ve developed innovative projects to support both young people and adults who are vulnerable to exploitation. We will not tolerate these crimes and we will work with the police day in and day out to bring any criminals to justice.”