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Safeguarding


Answer

A 'money mule' is someone who transfers stolen money on behalf of criminals through their own bank account.

Criminals will contact a person, either on the internet (via social media, a fake job advertisement) or in person, and offer to pay them for use of their bank account in order to receive stolen money and transfer it to another account.

The majority of the money being transferred is stolen money and is used to fund further criminal activity such as terrorism and fraud.

Criminals usually target vulnerable people who are in financial difficulties themselves and see being a mule as an opportunity to make money.

Once a person has transferred the money successfully there is a high chance that the criminals will want to repeat the process and may use intimidation if someone does not comply.

It is a criminal offence to let someone use your bank account for this activity and you could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years if caught. You could also have your account closed and find it difficult to access credit.

If someone asks you to use your bank account, report it to your local police force. Please see the link in Related Information for contact details.

Please also see the related topic, County Lines, in Related Information.


Answer

'County lines' is a term used to describe networks of gangs and organised crime groups, who use children, young people and vulnerable adults to carry out illegal activity on their behalf.

This criminal exploitation is known as 'county lines' as young children travel across counties and use dedicated mobile phone 'lines' to supply drugs.

As well as the storage and supply of drugs, gangs also use children for the movement of cash proceeds (money mules) and to secure the use of dwellings (commonly referred to as 'cuckooing').

Criminal gangs groom children into trafficking their drugs for them with promises of money, friendship and status. Once they've been drawn in, children are often controlled using threats, violence and sexual abuse. These children can then become trapped in criminal exploitation and feel as if they have no choice but to continue doing what the criminals want.

What are signs of criminal exploitation and county lines?

  • Unexplained absences from school, college, training or work.
  • Going missing from home, staying out late and travelling for unexplained reasons.
  • In a relationship or hanging out with someone older than them.
  • Being angry, aggressive or violent.
  • Being isolated or withdrawn.
  • Having unexplained money and buying new things.
  • Wearing clothes or accessories in gang colours or getting tattoos.
  • Using new slang words.
  • Spending more time on social media and being secretive about time online.
  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Carrying weapons.
  • Making more calls or sending more texts, possibly on a new phone or phones.
  • Taking drugs / abusing alcohol.
  • Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places.

The police work collaboratively with other forces and regional organised crime units to build intelligence, tackle the demand for drugs, ensure disruption of county lines activity, protect the vulnerable and carry out enforcement activity.

What to do if you have concerns

  • If you have information you wish to share with the police, contact your local police force.
  • If you believe a young person you know could be in immediate danger, call 999.
  • If you are a young person who is worried about your involvement, or a friend's involvement in county lines, it is a good option to speak to a family member or trusted adult about your concerns.


Answer

Bogus Callers

  • 'Officials' may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, a utilities company, health authority or other organisation.
  • 'Dealers' may offer to buy antiques, furniture or jewellery.
  • A 'labourer / worker' may say that they need to enter the house to check something or make urgent repairs.

Bogus callers will be attempting to gain entry to the premises to steal, often working in pairs, with one person distracting the homeowner while the other gains entry to the property.

Always ask the caller for their identification and check it, before letting them in. You can also phone to company to verify their identity. Make sure that you check the number yourself, rather than using a number that they give you, as this may be false and be answered by someone working with them. A genuine caller will be happy to wait outside whilst you check their credentials. If you are in any doubt, do not let the caller in.

Some utilities companies have password schemes, so you can check the identity of the caller before opening the door. You can contact your supplier to find out if they provide this service.

Rogue Traders

These people may use pressure tactics to persuade homeowners to have unnecessary work done or to purchase goods. The rogue traders will often have no experience or training and will carry out poor quality work or sell sub-standard goods for large amounts of money and usually ask for payment in cash.

Here are some top tips to avoid becoming victim to a rogue trader:

  • Install a door chain or spy hole.
  • Never agree to have work done by somebody who is just passing or take their word that it needs to be done at all.
  • Never agree to have work done or part with any money on your doorstep.
  • Always get at least 2 written quotes from traders for any work.
  • Always agree the price, payment arrangements and start/finish dates in writing before any work starts on your home.
  • Ask friends and relatives for a recommendation.

For complaints about goods and services, the Citizens Advice Bureau provide free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Please see the links in Related Information for details.


Answer

You should speak to your child's teacher to start with to let them know of the situation and what your child has told you. It is important to remain calm but firm when approaching the subject.

Ask the teacher at school if they have noticed any changes in your child's behaviour, as bullied children are often withdrawn and quiet which can affect their overall school performance.

The school will have policy in place for dealing with bullying and the teachers will have experience in dealing with such, therefore they should be able to suggest the best course of action. The websites listed in Related Information offer help and support for parents and children about the best way to approach bullying.


Answer

You should speak to the Head Teacher or Head of Year in this situation. It is important that this kind of incident is dealt with carefully but also professionally. The school will be able to advise on how to resolve the situation, measures could include observing lessons or if possible moving class to a different teacher. It may be worth speaking to your child about the bullying and how they would like the issue to be resolved.

Please see the websites in the Related Information section that offer specific advice in this situation.


Answer

Chatrooms can be a fun pastime for your children. However, there are dangers involved with using chatrooms that both parents and children need to be aware of.

Some people use the internet and chatrooms as a method to gain contact with children and subsequently enter into inappropriate and illegal relationships, as they can create false identities and remain anonymous. They may use a method known as 'grooming', which involves using deceiving techniques build a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them. This may include creating different personas or posing as a child themselves.  There is a government website which gives a more comprehensive overview of this activity and has a version for parents and children which sets out the possible dangers of communicating with strangers online and how to make chatrooms a safer place to be - Thinkuknow, see Related Information for that and other helpful websites.

A few basic tips to be aware of when using internet chatrooms are;-

  • Never give out any personal details
  • Always be wary, some users on the internet are not who they say they are
  • Never arrange to meet anyone you have met through a chatroom unless you are 100% sure they are who they say they are. Even then, tell your parents, take them or another responsible adult with you and always meet in a public place.


Answer

Details of registered sex offenders are kept on a register for the Police only, it is not for public access. If you have any concerns over the activities of a local resident then you should speak to your local police force.

The Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme (Sarah's law) allows members of the public to make a request that the police investigate a person. Anyone who looks out for the welfare of a child can make an enquiry. This can include parents, carers, guardians, extended family, friends and neighbours.

Disclosures however, will only be given to the person best placed to protect the particular child or children and who needs to know the details in order to keep the child safe, usually a parent, carer or guardian.

Once an application for an investigation has been made the police will require the applicant to specify the grounds for the investigation and the nature of the relationship between the applicant and the child, the applicant and the individual and the individual and the child. The applicant will be invited to an interview with the police where matters will be enquired into further.

Whilst the police have a duty to explore the request, there is no requirement for the police to disclose any information and all requests for information about named individuals will be discussed by the police, probation and safeguarding children staff in order to determine whether the release of information will provide additional protection for the child(ren ) in question.

If information is disclosed, the applicant will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement and be subject to sanctions should any unlawful disclosure be made. See link in related information for more details.


Answer

The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) has introduced a new helpline service for adults who are concerned about their children in relation to street gangs. The number is 0808 800 5000. The Government has also produced a leaflet giving advice to parents regarding children and street gangs. Please see the links in the Related Information section.


Answer

Grooming can occur face to face or over the internet and involves any communication with a child in order to commit a sexual offence. The individual does this by forming an emotional bond with the child to gain their trust - this can then lead to the offence of child sexual exploitation (CSE) being committed.

If a child is being groomed they may display unusual behaviours which you need to look out for; these may include -

  • becoming anxious or clingy
  • change in eating habits
  • self harm/suicidal
  • taking drugs or alcohol
  • missing school

If you are concerned about a child, you can contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 or you can report it directly to them via the following link -

NSPCC - report child abuse

For further support and advice on grooming and CSE, please see the links in related information.


Answer

Spotting the signs of child abuse can be difficult. Children might not want to tell anyone, or they may not even be aware it is happening.

If you are unsure, the best thing to do is talk - to the child, to a teacher or another responsible adult. It is always helpful to get someone else's perspective.

Symptoms that may be cause for concern include;

  • Talk of being left home alone or with strangers
  • Excessive violence with other children
  • Lack of social skills and struggles to make friends
  • Has a poor relationship with their parent(s)
  • Shows disruptive behaviour at school
  • Becomes secretive and reluctant to share information

If you have noticed any of the above and are unsure whether to report, do not wait until you are certain. You should contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 and a counsellor will then be able to assess the situation before offering further advice.

Contact your local police force

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