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Speaking to the police

You should involve the police when you suspect your child is being criminally exploited.

Police contact or being arrested will be scary for your child: they might be frightened of the police as well as the people exploiting them. They may also be frightened about how you will react.

It can be a daunting experience for you. However, the police’s role is to prevent child criminal exploitation, pursue the people criminally exploiting your child, and protect children and young people from further harm. To do this, they need information about who is exploiting your child, where this happens, and what this involves.

If your child is arrested

The police should call you. If your child is under 18, they should inform you as soon as possible. They cannot interview your child unless a parent or other appropriate adult is present.

You can be your child’s appropriate adult. Your child should be allowed to speak to their appropriate adult in private.

Your child should also have a legal representation. If you do not have a solicitor, ask for the ‘duty solicitor’ to be called. It can take an hour or more for them to arrive. When they do, tell the solicitor that you are concerned your child is being criminally exploited.

If you have been keeping a record of incidents and events, share this with your solicitor. They can make sure the police consider your concerns.

The National Referral Mechanism

When a young person is suspected of being a victim of child criminal exploitation, a referral can be made to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

The NRM is the process used to decide whether a young person has been a victim of modern slavery and trafficking. The referral can be made by the police, local authorities, and some voluntary organisations.

Possible outcomes

Negative decision

Negative decisions include:

  • Reasonable Grounds, where modern slavery is suspected but cannot be proven
  • Conclusive Grounds, where it is more than likely that the young person has been a victim of modern slavery.

You can appeal a negative Reasonable Grounds or Conclusive Grounds decision in two ways:

  1. Reconsideration. A first responder or practitioner can ask the competent authority to look at the evidence again or to include new evidence in their decision making.
  2. Judicial review. The young person can ask the court to review the decision.

Positive decision

A positive NRM decision should lead to better outcomes for the young person, as services should safeguard rather than criminalise them.

Even when your child receives a positive decision, there is still a risk if the exploiters think your child has avoided prosecution through ‘snitching’. You should work with services to ensure that you and your child are protected from negative repercussions and continued exploitation.