South Yorkshire police have issued a plea to Sheffield people to look out for signs of child criminal exploitation.
At least 46,000 children in England are involved in gang crime activity, according to the police.
Also known as County Lines, CCE often involves the use of coercion, threats of violence or physical harm to force youngsters and vulnerable adults into conducting illegal activities.
Emma Wheatcroft, Detective Chief Inspector, said: “Throughout this week we are raising awareness of the signs to spot in relation to child criminal exploitation and how you can help us to safeguard vulnerable young people and prevent them from becoming victims.”
Vulnerable young people aged 15-17 are often recruited by the gang members, to make drug deals on their behalf. Victims are often mistakenly being viewed as having chosen to engage in criminal behaviour.
Det Chf Insp Wheatcroft added : “Our aim is to safeguard them and to understand how they became involved, in order to put the necessary safeguarding measures in place”,
Some of the signs of CCE include:
* A significant change in behaviour
* New group of friends who are older and encouraging them to spend a lot of time away from home
* New, unaffordable items that they cannot account for
* Going missing or being away from home for long periods of time
* Unexplained injuries
* A decline in performance at school
The South Yorkshire Police work alongside with key partner agencies, as well as the local authority to provide them with more education about the dangers of CCE.
Anyone with any information call 0800 555 111