Project aimed at tackling child criminal exploitation and steering youngsters away from gangs launches in Sheffield
A project which aims to tackle child criminal exploitation and associated gun and knife crime across Sheffield will launch this month.
Child criminal exploitation (CCE) is a growing national issue where gangs target vulnerable children to get them to carry out criminal activities.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, published a report in February this year, warning that the same mistakes that led to child sexual exploitation are being made with gangs.
A partnership project called Project 0114 has now been set up in Sheffield with Home Office funding allocated through South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, and will begin to be rolled out in schools across the city this month.
Dr Billings said: "Criminal gangs are targeting younger people, encouraging them to get involved in criminality.
“Young people, looking for friendship, are drawn into the gang and through the simple task of carrying a package may be taking the first steps towards criminal behaviour.’
“We all need to work together in partnership to educate young people and offer early intervention to ensure they understand the risks and can make good decisions - if approached by organised crime gangs.”
The initative is being led by Sheffield Futures in conjunction with Sheffield City Council, ACT Sheffield, The Unity Gym Project, St Marks Church, Broomhill, Manor Castle Development Trust, My Life Project, Princes Trust, and Change Grow Live (CGL).
Gail Gibbons, CEO at Sheffield Futures, said: “Through Project 0114, we hope to equip our children and young people to be able to steer clear of the serious threat that comes from organised crime, child criminal exploitation and the associated violent crime we are unfortunately seeing become more and more frequent across the city.
“And, in the areas we know are being targeted by criminals intent on exploiting our young people we hope to engage children in inspiring activities and at the same time offer safe spaces where young people can learn and thrive.”
A spokesman for Sheffield Futures said a series of six sessions, co-delivered by youth workers and specially trained young people in schools, will be held for year seven pupils in schools across Sheffield.
The skills-based sessions will also be held for primary schools in ‘targeted areas’ and will be focussed on preventing child criminal exploitation and exploring the effects of knife and gun crime
As part of the project, Sheffield Futures hopes to provide young people with information about how they can seek support to move away from serious youth violence and to understand their rights and responsibilities in this area.
The charity says this element will form a key strand of the new Violent Crime and Organised Criminality (VCOC) strategy in Sheffield.
A second strand to the programme will see youth work activities delivered for young people in targeted areas to provide safe spaces where they can benefit from the strengths and experience of delivery partners, learning new and inspiring arts, music, media and sports skills.
The five areas of the city as identified in the VCOC strategy are: Broomhall; North East Sheffield; Manor Castle/Arbourthorne; Burngreave/Pitsmoor and Lowedges.