Written by Laura Schell, Youth and Early Intervention Supervisor, Wiltshire Police.

Working with hard-to-reach groups, improving chances of not becoming a victim of exploitation and preventing crime from happening is as much of a key issue for policing as answering 999 calls.

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Wiltshire Police are acutely aware of how these actions contribute to the success of the county’s policing priorities contained within the current Police Crime Plan.

A specialist Youth and Early Intervention team, which consists of police officers, PCSOs, police staff and an analyst, means there is a ‘one team’ approach and ensures continuity and collaboration for our communities.

This early intervention model seeks to identify and address root causes of issues for children and families at the earliest opportunity, before they become entrenched in exploitative or criminal activities.

There is strong evidence to support that effective early intervention can significantly improve the lives of young people, diverting them from anti-social behaviour and criminal activity, and associated risks of being a victim including of exploitation. It not only improves outcomes but also offers economic and social benefits in the long term.

Key to success is the early identification of children and young people at risk of poor outcomes; using appropriate and needs-led interventions, considering the context and setting for children, young people and their families.

The youth and EI team deliver interventions in a contextual, child-centred, trauma-informed approach. They work closely with key partners and stakeholders, such as the OPCC, to deliver on all the Police and Crime Plan priorities.

Next week over four days, the OPCC and Wiltshire Police, working in partnership with Swindon Borough Council and the Swindon Safeguarding Partnership, will be hosting four, themed, virtual forums on ACEs and Trauma, Youth Violence, Early Help, Mental Health.

The agenda is diverse and there are a number of speakers on each day to raise awareness of the services available to help and support professionals working with children and young people.

Knowing the signs of exploitation and intervening early was a key aim of Fearless – an OPCC and Wiltshire Police-commissioned partnership training programme and campaign.

Fearless delivered packs around exploitation to schools during lockdown, training sessions with Wiltshire Police to a range of professionals and targeted social media campaigns.

During Op Makesafe, earlier this year, the OPCC contributed funding towards a multi-agency operation to upskill businesses to recognise and report exploitation.

Working jointly with The Children’s Society and Fearless, Wiltshire Police delivered training sessions to businesses to increase confidence in spotting the signs of exploitation, to keep our young people safe in the community.

All this work was well received and valuable in equipping our community to understand, report and disrupt exploitation, but the work is never over.

Working together is the only way we can disrupt exploitation and make our communities safer for all.