What is Child Criminal Exploitation?
Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) is a prevalent form of exploitation within the context of criminality. CCE occurs when a criminal group, gang or individual manipulates, or uses power and violence to coerce, control or deceive a child into committing criminal acts.
Criminal exploitation has quickly grown to become the most common form of modern slavery in the UK, accounting for 29% of all referrals and 44% of referrals relating to children into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). County Lines exploitation accounts for a large increase in these figures.
However, child exploitation is not limited to County Lines activity and also occurs in other – more hidden – contexts. It is a broader crime within the realm of modern slavery and can take many forms, including pressuring and forcing children to engage in anti-social behaviour, violence, theft, arson, criminal damage, providing false alibis and looking after illicit items (e.g. ‘burner’ phones, drugs and weapons).
The prevalence of CCE has increased in recent years, due in part to the ease in which exploiters can utilise social media to reach and exploit children and vulnerable people.
CCE can be recognised in the following circumstances:
- When a child is used, coerced, forced or deceived into committing a crime
- When this is done in exchange for such things as status, money, food, drugs, alcohol, accommodation or the promise of a better life for themselves and/or their families
- When children do not realise that they are being exploited and believe that they are participating in something positive or that they belong to a certain group which offers a sense of belonging, identity and protection.
Who is affected by CCE?
Research has indicated that children who are most at risk of exploitation are those who are vulnerable or lack a support network. Children who may be particularly vulnerable to exploitation include those with learning disabilities and mental health problems, children in the social care system and children who have been excluded from school. Exploiters may attempt to exploit certain vulnerabilities by filling emotional gaps and making children feel like they belong to or are part of a family.
Black Box Research and Consultancy is dedicated to preventing Child Criminal Exploitation by educating individuals and professionals on the signs to look for that may indicate the occurrence of exploitation.