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By understanding what to look for, such as potential warning signs that a young person is perhaps being exploited and knowing what information can help prevent crime, the public can play a vital part in keeping young people safe and saving lives.
Sometimes people involved in crime will take advantage of young people and manipulate them into doing things they wouldn’t normally do, such as helping to sell drugs, carrying weapons or stealing for example, which puts young people at risk.
The tactics that these people use are clever, and someone might not understand they are being used or 'groomed'. They can include:
These tactics often mean the young person is then in their debt and will owe them favours, such as carrying weapons or selling drugs. They have no problem with putting a young person at risk to make money.
We know that some young people, when put in a difficult and frightening situation, have made decisions in the heat of the moment that have unfortunately changed their lives and others forever.
Knowing the signs of gang grooming to spot can mean that you can help a young person before it’s too late – before they either get hurt or do something that they ending up regretting.
If you are concerned about a young person then there are things you can look for - subtle changes in behaviour that could be an indicator:
Many of these signs might just be down to typical teenage challenges and part of growing up, exam pressure, teenage relationships or other stressful issues. But they could also be signs that a young person is being groomed or used by criminals or gangs.
If you are worried, talk to the young person and outline your concerns. Ask about them about their own worries and discuss what you can do to help.
You can also talk to their school, youth worker or your local police team.
Sometimes having difficult conversations, whilst uncomfortable at the time, can be prevent something more serious from happening.