Hinds pledges £2m to help schools tackle child exploitation

Schools will get help to tackle child criminal or sexual exploitation under a £2 million scheme announced by the government.

However, further details of how the scheme will work will not be announced until after a consultation.

The new tackling child exploitation support programme will see academics and experts led by Research in Practice team up with The Children’s Society and the University of Bedfordshire to design support for youngsters.

The fund isn’t specifically for schools, it will help “different local areas” respond to exploitation, but the Department for Education said teachers will benefit from the programme.

That’s “likely” to include support from staff with “expertise in tackling particular areas of exploitation”, help to assess the needs of specific areas and online learning materials.

There is also likely to be support to create strategies and improve data collation so councils and safeguarding partners can respond more effectively to concerns, along with research projects in local areas to “build a better knowledge base about threats to children outside their family home”.

Damian Hinds, the education secretary, said: “Being safe at school and having a stable home life is the best form of protection for the children as they grow up – but we know that those who are the most vulnerable, are the most at risk of exploitation of those who want to take advantage of them.

“We are all united in cracking down on those who try to lead vulnerable young people down a dangerous path, and the threats they face are multiple and complex. We must make sure that we work together and this new approach to better support teachers, police and health professionals will improve the expertise and guidance available to all those who care for and educate young people.”

According to the National Crime Agency,  35 per cent of police forces reported evidence of child sexual exploitation in relation to so-called “county lines” activity in 2017. The practice involves criminals using children and young people to traffic drugs from one region to another, often in rural areas.