New campaign encourages public to ‘Be Curious’

Posted on: 2 February 2017

A new campaign has been launched to help raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE), modern slavery and violent extremism in Devon.

The Be Curious campaign, developed by the Safer Devon Partnership, aims to raise awareness of the issues and uses short animations to highlight potential signs of modern slavery, CSE and violent extremism.

The Safer Devon Partnership is a county-wide strategic partnership which brings together a range of stakeholders who all play a key role in enabling people to feel and be safe in their homes and communities.

Roger Croad, who Chairs the Safer Devon Partnership, said:

“So often, people think that issues such as child sexual exploitation, violent extremism and modern slavery don’t affect people living in Devon. The general consensus is that these things only happen in big cities.

“This isn’t the case.  In the past year alone we have seen a number of these cases across Devon, and are hoping this campaign will raise awareness about the signs to look out for so that we can work together to help prevent further cases in the future.

“We want to encourage people to come forward or speak to someone they trust if they suspect something.”

In 2016 alone, there were several suspected cases of modern slavery, including a Torquay nail bar that was shut down as part of an anti-modern slavery operation involving five South West police forces, led by the National Crime Agency.   The case discovered three potential modern slavery victims from Vietnam.

And a few months earlier, two Exeter car washes were raided by Devon and Cornwall Police as part of enquiries into allegations of modern slavery.

The Be Curious campaign is also raising awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) –  an issue which had 56 reported cases in Devon between January 2014 and October 2014 with 76 identified crimes relating to CSE with an online element that year; and violent extremism – which has recently made numerous national headlines with a rise in reported cases.

Cllr Croad, said:

“Radicalisation and violent extremism can and does happen anywhere and the rise of online communication means that people are better connected than ever before. For example a person sitting alone in their bedroom could become subject to radicalisation.”

Julian Pezzani, Devon Partnership Inspector for Devon and Cornwall Police, said:

“These are three very separate, but important issues that all involve the exploitation of vulnerable people within our communities.

“Keeping everyone safe in the community is everyone’s responsibility.  We would encourage the public to be aware of the signs to look out for and to report any unusual or suspicious behaviour in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously.”

“We are hoping that the Be Curious campaign will help members of the public start to recognise the potential signs for any of these issues, and feel confident that if they think something is wrong, it’s okay to seek advice.”

Possible signs might include:

Modern slavery:
•    people who appear to be being forced to work against their will
•    people who are unhappy or unresponsive in the work place
•    people who rarely interact with others or appear unfamiliar within their neighbourhood or where they work
•    people travelling at unusual times to and from work.

Child sexual exploitation:
•    children going missing for long periods of time or regularly returning home late
•    skipping school or being disruptive in class
•    appearing with unexplained gifts or possessions that can’t be accounted for
•    displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour

Violent extremism: (often typical in younger people but not exclusive to)
•    feeling disconnected from their cultural or religious heritage
•    feeling isolated
•    disassociating from a group of friends and becoming part of a completely new group
•    articulating support for violent extremist causes or leaders
•    accessing websites containing violent or extreme sentiment

As well as encouraging people to talk to someone they trust, the campaign also offers the appropriate helplines for each of the three issues for people who would like to get more specific advice or information.

To find out more about Be Curious and watch the campaign animations, follow @SaferDevon on Twitter or like Safer Devon on Facebook.

The animation are available to see on You Tube.  Click on the issue to see the animation.
Modern Slavery , Violent Extremism , Child Sexual Exploitation

The Safer Devon Partnership consists of the following authorities:

  • Devon County Council
  • Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue
  • Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Probation Service
  • Community Rehabilitation Company
  • District Community Safety Partnerships

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