The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey is looking to fund a dedicated service to work with young people affected by exploitation in the county.
Up to £100,000 is being made available from the Community Safety Fund to support a Surrey organisation that has a proven record of helping young people affected by, or at risk of serious criminal exploitation.
Most exploitation involves the use of children by ‘county lines’ networks that distribute drugs from major cities to local towns and villages.
Signs that a young person might be at risk include absence from education or going missing from home, becoming withdrawn or uninterested in usual activities, or relationships or gifts from new ‘friends’ that are older.
Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson said: “I’m really passionate about ensuring that our focus in Surrey includes supporting young people to stay safe, and to feel safe.
“That’s why I’m so excited that we’re making new funding available to deliver a dedicated service that will tackle the root causes of exploitation in direct partnership with the individuals affected. If this is an area where your organisation can make a difference – please get in touch.”
In the year to February 2021, Surrey Police and partners identified 206 young people at risk of
exploitation, of which 14% were already experiencing it. The majority of young people will grow up happy and healthy with no intervention from services including Surrey Police.
Focussing on early intervention that recognises the family, health and social factors that can lead to exploitation, the three-year project aims to support over 300 young people.
The successful recipient of the funding will work with young people identified as being at risk of exploitation to tackle the root causes of their vulnerability.
As part of a partnership across Surrey that includes the Commissioner’s Office, they will develop trusted relationships that lead to new opportunities for the individual, such as entry or re-entry into education, or improved access to physical and mental health care.
Interested organisations can find out more here.