Town 'not immune' to child exploitation - warning to Solihull

Town ‘not immune’ to child exploitation – warning to Solihull

Solihull is ‘not immune’ to problems such as drug-running and gang culture, a councillor has warned.

Cllr Ken Meeson, the cabinet member for children, education and skills, has said the authorities were increasingly aware of the wide range of criminal activity which youngsters can be forced into.

Earlier this year, Solihull’s Local Safeguarding Children Board had agreed that the definition of exploitation should be expanded in recognition of the fact that victims’ ordeals may not be limited to sexual abuse.

In recent months there have been increasing reports from around the country of criminal gangs operating ‘county lines’ – the term used for children being exploited and trafficked to sell drugs.



Child sexual exploitation cases reported in Solihull more than doubled in the past 12 months. (Library photo posed by models)

“Some of those young people who are being exploited [sexually] are linked to other ways of being exploited,” said Cllr Meeson, at a meeting of the council’s health and wellbeing board.

“Some of that is drug-running, and that’s now getting a national profile, and we’re not immune to that in Solihull.

“Gang culture is another one and again, as I say, we’re not immune to that in Solihull, although fortunately it’s very limited.”

The annual safeguarding report presented to the board also noted the dangers of modern day slavery.

Coincidentally Superintendent Richard Agar, from Solihull Police, had this week spoken about the efforts to tackle the ‘absolute exploitation’ associated with these activities.

Not enough cash to fight ‘hidden crimes’ – police chief

Earlier this year, the authorities visited a number of businesses around the borough where there had been allegations of people being forced to work for as little as £4 an hour.

“People have told me since I have come here that we don’t get this in Solihull. I think we do, it’s a case of looking for it,” said Supt Agar.

“We need to raise awareness and talk about what we can all do to target that.”

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