Child exploitation is a serious crime which is happening right now, right here to boys and girls Safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults is everyone's business. This is particularly so when it comes to those who are sexually or criminally exploited, those who go missing and those who are trafficked or subject to modern slavery for whatever purpose. Lives may be and are destroyed and communities damaged as a consequence. The Teeswide VEMT Strategy outlines how we work with the other Tees Valley local authorities to improve practice, increase knowledge and understanding to respond to the exploitation of children and young adults. You can find out more by downloading the strategy document below: Document Teeswide VEMT Strategy.pdf (PDF, 220.32KB) Key Definitions Criminal exploitation Criminal exploitation is a form of modern slavery that sees victims being forced to work under the control of highly organised criminals in activities such as forced begging, shoplifting and pickpocketing, cannabis cultivation, drug dealing and financial exploitation. Criminal exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child, young person or vulnerable adult. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Criminal exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology. County lines County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or another form of “deal line". They are likely to exploit children, young people and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons. County lines activities and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation have a devastating impact on children, young people and vulnerable adults as well as families and local communities. Sexual exploitation Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child, young person or vulnerable adult into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it may also occur through the use of technology. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. Involvement in exploitative relationships is characterised by the limited availability of choice for the child, young person or adult at risk, as a result of their social, economic or emotional vulnerability. A common feature of sexual exploitation is that the victim does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. Modern Slavery Modern slavery is a serious crime being committed across the UK in which victims are exploited for someone else's gain. It can take many forms including trafficking of people, forced labour and servitude. Victims are often hidden away, may be unable to leave their situation, or may not come forward because of fear or shame. Human trafficking Human trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud, coercion or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. It is a form of modern slavery. Human trafficking is a crime and does not always involve international transportation; trafficking in the UK includes commercial, sexual and bonded labour A Missing Person A missing person is defined as: anyone whose whereabouts are unknown and informing the requirement for police investigation; where the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject to crime or the person is at risk of harm to themselves or another.