Preventing Child Exploitation

18 March 2024
CE awarenss day graphic - with thought bubble and the words "spot the signs" inside

Wirral is joining with a national awareness day to highlight the issue of child exploitation.

The awareness day takes place on 18th March and aims to highlight the issues surrounding child exploitation, encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against this form of abuse. 

This article explains what child exploitation is, and further down gives information on what is being done in Wirral to tackle it, with additional information about what advice and support is available, including how to report if you have concerns about a child.

What is Child exploitation?

Child Exploitation (CE) is a form of abuse that involves the use, manipulation and/or coercion of young people. This might be sexually – in person or online, or targeting incredibly vulnerable young people to deal drugs or carry out other criminal acts for someone else’s benefit. 

Children missing from education can be vulnerable – this status can leave some of our young people exposed to criminals who may seek to groom them. 

Chair of Wirral Council’s Children, Young People & Education Committee, Cllr Sue Powell-Wilde, said: 

Wirral Council and safeguarding partners are clear in their desire to prevent our young people being exploited. Specialist Wirral exploitation officers and colleagues from the Police, Catch 22, Health sector and the National Probation Service keep a daily focus on exploitation. This means we can react quickly and collectively to information of concern; and work directly with those children and young people who may be at risk. 

Our most recent Ofsted inspection highlighted the effective and well-coordinated response to exploitation in Wirral. These dedicated staff still need all our help to keep Wirral children safe. We must continue to be vigilant, and report concerns you have for children - or suspicions you may have about places, spaces or people who might pose a risk to our young people. 

Please do take some time to find out how to spot the signs of child exploitation; how to share these concerns, where to get advice, or perhaps find out what support is available for you or your loved ones.

Visit the website to find out more about the NWG CE awareness day; and help prevent the grooming and exploitation of our children. 


What is being done in Wirral to tackle child exploitation?

Prevention Programmes in Wirral continues to deliver the In The Zone programme to young people across the borough. In the Zone is one of the projects which has helped Wirral see a drop in the rate of young people entering the justice system by almost 27% in 2022 compared to the previous year. This programme is delivered in schools through Year 9 lessons delivering bespoke sessions on:

  • Exploitation
  • Crime and consequences 
  • Cyber safety 
  • Peer pressure 
  • Drug and alcohol 


To date Wirral has delivered the programme over the past 2 ½ years to more than 5500 young people, with feedback from the children, parents and school being excellent. Our Detached Youth Workers, working with children in their own spaces, have delivered over 11000 individual interventions in the last 12 months. This is helping our young people stay safe. 

The council also works with partners across Merseyside to address CE concerns. 

Young people at the highest risk of exploitation are managed and supported by Merseyside Multi Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) meetings, through a partnership approach with other Merseyside agencies. Incidents of Children going missing for example, is at the lowest level since lockdown. This is good news for our young people, and their carers. 


Wirral Advice & Support

For children and young people, try Zillo – a website for young people living in Wirral.

For families, try Toolbox – support and resources available for families.

The following websites provide local sources of information and signposting to services and advice.


How to report concerns?

If you suspect a child or young person is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect please report it to the Wirral Children’s Services Integrated Front Door. 

  • 0151 606 2008 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday.
  • 0151 677 6557 – At other times.

In an emergency, where a child is at immediate risk, consider 999.

How to provide information that might help?

You can report non-emergency information through the Merseyside Police website, below.

If you are worried about leaving your name, Crimestoppers can be used to anonymously report information which will support action to combat exploitation, such as information about suspected groomers. 

The Crimestoppers number is 0800 555 111 or alternatively use the website: to report online.