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Safeguarding at the Hawkswood Group

Each provision at the Hawkswood Group has at least one Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Their contact details can be found on the individual school's Contact information page.

The Designated Safeguarding Leads are responsible for a wide range of safeguarding related matters involving both staff and pupils. They are available to speak to pupils and families as and when required.

We are also supported by an Executive Lead for Safeguarding Olivia Lee, as well as a Link Safeguarding Governor Stephen Cobbold.

 

Contextual Safeguarding - Gangs, Criminal Exploitation and Child Sexual Exploitation

Gangs and Criminal Exploitation

Waltham Forest has a number of gangs operating within its boundaries and at any one time allegiances and tensions may exist between such groups, which are subject to change and fluidity. Identified gang members in Waltham Forest are made up of mainly young people, aged between 12 and 19 years. We have seen even younger children involved in or on the periphery of gangs and attracted to the money, power and apparent status of their older peers.

The pupils at the Hawkswood Group are extremely vulnerable to criminal and sexual exploitation from gangs, and we do our upmost to safeguard, support education, training and prevention work, alongside the Local Authority and Police partners.

Staff at the Hawkswood Group are trained to identify early signs of risk and exploitation, and to respond to concerns appropriately. We work in conjunction with local and national Police, Young Offending Service, Family Partnerships Team and Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

We work to agreed frameworks, including supporting referrals to the National Referral Mechanism for children who are victims of modern slavery and trafficking.

Ofsted published ‘Time to listen’, a thematic report outlining findings from the 5 joint targeted area inspections, in September 2016 and an addendum to this report in November 2018, can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/joint-inspections-of-child-sexual-exploitation-and-missing-children

 

Nature of the threat

Once established junior gang members aged between 12 -16 called Younger's run county lines for the older gang members know as Elders. Younger's are vulnerable males and females who are recruited by predatory older gang members. Recent local trends in Waltham Forest show an increase in children in care being targeted by predatory older gang members aged between 12-16 years old.
 
Youngers can "earn" large sums of money from drug dealing, which can seem desirable to the young person initially, however once targeted and groomed into this situation, Youngers face  the danger of being attacked by rival gangs, being arrested by Police thus entering the criminal justice system and also from their own gang if they lose their drugs/money when seized by Police (if arrested) or taken using violence by a rival gang. They are also at potential risk of fatal injury from rival gangs. Waltham Forest has had several young people drugs running for gangs who have ended up being stabbed and shot by rival gangs.
 
Violence is used in establishing the county line, securing the county line and removing competition.
 
Child Sexual Exploitation
 
Children are also sexually exploited by gangs with criminal associations. In these cases, the gang may benefit financially from the sexual exploitation.
 
A person under 18 is sexually exploited when they are coerced into sexual activities by one or more person(s) who have deliberately targeted their youth and inexperience in order to exercise power over them.
 
The process often involves a stage of ‘grooming’, in which the child might receive something (such as a mobile phone, clothes, drugs or alcohol, attention or affection) prior to, or as a result of, performing sexual activities, or having sexual activities performed on them. Although every case is different.
 
Child sexual exploitation may occur through the use of technology without the child’s consent or immediate recognition; for example through being persuaded to post sexual images over the Internet or via mobile phone.
 
Child sexual exploitation is often conducted with actual violence or the threat of violence. This may be threats towards the child, or her or his family and may prevent the child from disclosing the abuse, or exiting the cycle of exploitation. Indeed, the child may be so confused by the process, that they do not perceive any abuse at all.

Transportation
Rail, hire cars, taxis and local user’s vehicles are main transportation methods for the trafficking of children and drugs.

Indicators

Key indicators of criminal and sexual exploitation include (but not limited to):

  • High truancy rates from school
  • Regularly going missing from home
  • Unexplained money
  • Unexplained new clothes and personal items
  • Changes in behaviour and levels of anger/aggressions or total withdrawal and dis-engagement from previous hobbies and relationships
  • Tiredness and exhaustion - late nights not returning home
  • Fear/anxiety to leave the house
  • Increased stress levels
  • Weapon carrying
  • More than 1 mobile phone
  • Drug and alcohol / substance misuse
  • New "friends" - often older people
  • Injury from violence
  • Sudden dis-respect for parents/carers and authority figures including school staff and Police

 

What you can  do

If you have concerns that your child or a child you know is being groomed by gangs or being exploited criminally or sexually you need to report this so that you can get help for them.
There is help on offer from the school and Local Authority.

You can report your concerns to:

  • Your local Police or 101/999 depending on nature of threat
  • School - Designated Safeguarding Lead (see individual School Safeguarding pages)
  • Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) - 0208 496 3000
  • London Gang Exit Programme (Safer London) -  Referral Unit 020 3745 8374 | https://saferlondon.org.uk/services/London-gang-exit
  • Childline 0808 800 5000
  • CEOP

Which ever reporting method you choose, you will be guided through the process and offered appropriate support along the way. The Local Authority  convene a monthly panel to discuss new cases and allocate support to children and families.  A member of the Hawkswood Group Safeguarding Team attends this panel. Yours and your child's information will be kept confidential between professional partners only, on a need to know basis for safeguarding reasons.