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Conference teaches young people the signs of exploitation

 Young people in Cumbria attended a conference at Carlisle College to learn more about the signs of exploitation and how to keep themselves as safe as possible.

On Wednesday 30 November, 140 young people gathered at Carlisle College to take part in the ‘Be Safe, Stay Safe’ symposium. The symposium is a collaboration between Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, and the college to raise awareness amongst young people of sexual exploitation/abuse and other forms of exploitation within the wider context of drugs and county lines.

The young people received presentations on county lines by Detective Sergeant Kevin Milby and Criminal Justice Worker, Tom Sharp, from The Well Communities in Barrow – an organisation dedicated to helping those in recovery from addiction. They also heard from Liz Stanton from Get Safe Online, an organisation dedicated to helping and preventing cyber-crime, on cyber safety.  Victim Support’s workshop focused on the role of and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor, what support is available from Victim Support and how the public can gain access to these services. Detective Inspector Matthew Belshaw from Cumbria Constabulary also delivered a workshop focusing on violence against women and girls, and the accepted attitudes and behaviours of men and boys.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “We would all like to think that exploitation of any kind does not happen in Cumbria but, unfortunately, it does.

“That’s why it is so important that we provide our young people with the knowledge on how to spot the early signs of potential exploitation, know how to report these crimes and, most importantly, keep themselves as safe as possible.

“Knowledge is power and conferences such as this, give our young people the chance to learn how to equip themselves with the skills to prevent becoming a victim of a crime as best as possible.

“Thank you to all who attended the event and all the partners that presented and ran the workshops.

“Stopping crime is a community effort so partners coming together to help reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, can only be a positive.

“Together we can make Cumbria an even safer place to live.”

Suzanne Wannop, Assistant Principal at Carlisle College, said: “Carlisle college prioritises the safety and well being of all of its students. This event is about raising awareness of how individuals can safe guard themselves better.

“The two workshops are specifically targeted at the younger audience and hopefully learners will take vital information away not only for themselves but for their friends and family.

“The impact of this event will raise conversations that would not normally happen.

“The market place includes a wide range of external organisations and support networks for students to access if needed.

“The college continues to address many of these issues on a regular basis, therefore teaching students about potential risks is essential to provide a safer environment for students to thrive in, both in College and in the wider community.”

Detective Inspector Matt Belshaw, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Working together with communities and partner agencies is crucial in our efforts to keep people in Cumbria safe.

“Today’s event provided a further opportunity to engage with young people on issues that could and do impact them.

“As one of the force’s lead officers in tackling violence against women and girls, I was pleased to deliver a workshop on this matter and particularly delve into what the young people present viewed as accepted attitudes and behaviours.

“By educating people on the law and myth-bust any wrongfully-held perceptions, we can influence a change in behaviour which can prevent women and girls in our county being subject to harm or harassment.”

Tom Sharp, Criminal Justice Worker from The Well Communities, said: “In order for our children to grow up and be safe in our communities, we need to create safer environments and we can only do this by everyone working together and taking responsibility for making our communities a safer place to live for everyone.

“The Well Communities CIC are proud to be associated with this event and are proud to deliver county wide substance misuse awareness and resilience to schools, colleges, employers, and the public.

“The importance of early intervention cannot be underestimated; hence we aim bespoke training delivery and such cohorts to ensure we impact and potentially change and save lives.”

Lee Evans, Area Manager for Victim Support Cumbria said: “It’s so important that young people are equipped with the knowledge to recognise exploitation and abuse – and the skills to get support if they’re affected.

“This event was a brilliant opportunity to speak to the students of Carlisle College about Victim Support’s work helping people who have been victims of sexual violence.

“Anyone who needs support from our services can get in touch by searching Victim Support Cumbria or calling our free support line on 0300 303 0157.”

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, said: “While it’s fantastic that we can all rely on the internet for so many things, it’s also vital that we do all we can to protect ourselves from the harms that can be encountered every day.

“Our young people can represent a particularly attractive online target, whether it’s related to fraud, various kinds of abuse, recruitment into activities such as money muling, malware coding or drug-related crimes, or other forms of exploitation.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Cumbria’s Police & Crime Commissioner in this important initiative so that our young people can go online with safety and confidence.

“It’s also great that my colleague Liz Stanton spoke to college staff and other adults on Tuesday to set the scene for the main event.”

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