Highland Licensing Board to provide sessions on protecting children

Issued by Highland Child Protection Committee

Highland Child Protection Committee is working with the night time economy to prevent, report and disrupt any signs of Child Sexual Exploitation in Highland. Supported by the Highland Licensing Board, a series of two-hour briefing sessions will help people recognise the signs and indicators of child sexual exploitation and provide an opportunity to discuss the role of the night time economy in helping tackle any issues at the early possible opportunity.

Detective Chief Inspector Vince McLaughlin, Chair of Highland Child Protection Committee said: “Protecting children and young people from abuse, neglect and harm by others in the community is everyone’s responsibility. The Highland Child Protection Committee works collaboratively across statutory agencies and the third sector to promote this as a priority and the best interests of children and young people.

"It’s important that all members of the community have an understanding of the issues which can affect children and young people including child sexual exploitation and crucially, know who to speak to if they have a concern about a child or recognise the signs of exploitation. This is a vitally important issue across Scotland and locally within the Highlands and it is initiatives such as this which bring communities together to tackle child abuse in all forms by focusing on prevention.

"The support of the Licensing Board is welcomed in tackling this issue and demonstrates a shared commitment to increase the opportunities for early and effective interventions through improved awareness across the licensing sector and night-time economy businesses.”

Child Protection training is already available for anyone who volunteers or is employed to work with children and young people across Highland. However, this new initiative forms part of the Child Protection Committee’s Child Sexual Exploitation plan and recognises the role the wider community has in helping identify and address concerns about children and young people who may be being exploited.

Bill Alexander, Director of Care and Learning, Highland Council said: “Inverness and the Highlands are generally regarded as very safe places for children.  However, we should never be complacent, and people who present risks to young people can live in all sorts of communities.  That is why we value members of the public, including those who are around at key times such as evenings and at night, being alert to these issues.”

The Scottish Government Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan recognises the role of the night time economy in helping identify signs or potential hot spots for sexual exploitation.  Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse, in which a young person is manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act by someone who has power over them. This could be as part of a seemingly consensual relationship, or in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or somewhere to stay. The young person may think that their abuser is their friend, or even their boyfriend or girlfriend but they will put them into dangerous situations, forcing the young person to do things they don’t fully understand or want to do. Young people can be exploited online or in person. This training will help people think about situations they may become aware of in within their own setting or locally and who they might share their concerns with.

Councillor Drew Millar said: “Bar staff, taxi drivers and hotel workers, are amongst those groups who may see something of concern, that can help us to protect a vulnerable young person.  The Highland Child Protection Committee is alerting night time workers to the possible signs of sexual exploitation, and to the process whereby they can get in touch with the authorities.  I very much welcome this initiative”. 

Initial sessions will take place in Inverness on January 18th 2017 and February 10th 2017. These sessions are free and available for anyone providing services within the night time economy. Further sessions will also run across Highland throughout 2017.

If you would like to book a place at this training or for further information please contact CP.Training@highland.gov.uk or the Child Protection Training Officer on 01463 703541

19 Dec 2016
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