Over 150 people attend Council’s online exploitation conference

Over 150 people attended an online conference yesterday (21 September) to learn about the signs of different types of exploitation including cuckooing, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and forced labour. Organised by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Safer Communities & Partnership Team, attendees heard more about different types of exploitation and how different agencies help safeguard vulnerable people.

Among the speakers were the St Giles Trust, who spoke about their SOS+ initiative in schools, to help prevent young people getting involved in gangs, crime and serious youth violence, and the National Crime Agency who spoke about her role in partnership working to support partners to tackle cuckooing and exploitation.

The Council’s Adult Services team also attended and talked about how they work to safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in the community and prevent them from being exploited by criminals.

Sergeant James West from Bedfordshire Police spoke at the event to highlight drugs supply and cuckooing. Cuckooing is the term used to describe criminals, mainly drug dealers, taking advantage of a vulnerable person, using threats of violence to take over their home and using it as a base for criminal activity. 

YouTurn Futures spoke about the service they run in Central Bedfordshire, designed to support young people to move away from serious violence, knife crime, gangs, organised criminality and support those who are at risk of exploitation. Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service gave attendees an overview of their Safe and Well visits, which help protect vulnerable people by offering advice about fire safety, health and wellbeing and crime prevention.

Cllr Ian Bond, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Deputy Executive Member for Community Services, said: “This was our second online exploitation conference this year, and the number of partner agencies who attended or gave presentations really shows the dedication to tackling these issues and safeguarding people in our communities. Continued learning about these topics is vital; by raising awareness of the signs of exploitation, we are ensuring people across the county can recognise them and approach the relevant support service if they are concerned about someone.

“Sadly there are criminals who target vulnerable people and take advantage of them, but there is a lot of work going on by various organisations to tackle it – either using information and enforcement to disrupt it, or to help, support and safeguard vulnerable people.”

If you have concerns

  1. If you have concerns about cuckooing, residents can contact  Central Bedfordshire Council’s Safer Communities and Partnership team at: community.safety@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk
  2. You can also call Bedfordshire Police on 101 or report information online Or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

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