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A team of dedicated schools officers in west Kent is leading an initiative to raise awareness among parents of issues including gang recruitment, grooming and internet safety.
On Thursday 25 November 2021, Kent Police hosted an event at Holmesdale School in Snodland, aimed at sharing advice around the tell-tale signs of child exploitation as well as information on how to get help.
The evening was supported by partner agencies and charities including Restore Reform Respect, which focuses on early intervention and education around gang involvement, knife crime and county lines.
The event was one of the first of its kind to take place, following a rollout by Kent Police of new schools officer teams earlier this year.
These teams work closely with secondary schools across the county and aim to identify and disrupt criminal activity and protect vulnerable children, create a positive influence on young people, provide early intervention and reduce the fear of crime among students.
Schools officer and event organiser, PC Felicity Hall, said: ‘Events such as these are really important and helpful in raising awareness of issues related to the potential exploitation of children. 'They allow us to inform parents, carers and guardians about current crime trends and potential risks, some of which they may simply not be aware of. 'Sharing this information and advice, through our officers and partners, can also help with early intervention which is often key to protecting our young people and steering them away from criminality.’
Those who attended also heard from partners including We Are With You (which offers confidential support for issues around alcohol, drugs or mental health) and the Violence Reduction Unit, a partnership involving police, local authorities and health service providers.
The initiative was further backed by Family Matters, a charity funded and supported by the Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, which provides help for victims of sexual abuse and violence.
Matthew Scott, the Police and Crime Commissioner said: ‘It’s really important to engage not just with young people, but also their parents and inform them of some of the services we have out there, which can help support vulnerable youngsters.’