Child criminal exploitation is when someone uses a child (under 18 years old) to commit crimes for them.
It includes things like forcing a child to work on a cannabis farm, or grooming a child to sell drugs in county lines operations.
Child criminal exploitation can involve bribery, violence or threats. The child does not need to have met whoever is exploiting them – children can be exploited via the internet or using mobile phones.
A child may have been exploited even if it looks as if they have willingly committed the crime.
Signs to look out for include:
· often going missing from home or school and being found away from their normal area
· unexplained money, clothes or mobile phones
· having multiple mobile phones
· getting lots of phone calls or texts
· relationships with older people
· unexplained injuries
· carrying weapons
· abandoning friends and their social circle
· school performance getting worse
· significant emotional changes (like becoming more angry or sad)
Any sudden change in a young person’s lifestyle could be because of criminal exploitation and you should talk to them about it.