Faculty of Creative & Cultural Industries (CCI)


School of Art, Design & Performance

Public or community group

Active Communities Network (Hampshire), with funding from Safer Communities Fund 2019/20, Police and Crime Commission, Child Criminal Exploitation (County Lines) commissioning theme

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Project introduction

The need for this project was identified by Julian Wadsworth, the CEO of Active Communities Network (ACN), in connection with the Police and Crime Commission and the multi-agency teams linked to safeguarding, child protection, child criminal exploitation and drug related harm.  Julian approached UoP and spoke with a Collaboration Manager who indicated that CCI was happy to be a partner. The idea developed was that local theatres and the University would work on an Applied Theatre project and create a ‘product’ for use in schools and community settings.

The project will contribute to the following Police and Crime Plan’s priority areas:

  • Championing community needs – support victims and those affected by crime and disorder
  • Strengthening partnerships
  • Reducing offending
  • Enabling effective and efficient operational policing

Despite excellent work by Hampshire Constabulary including Neighbourhood Policing Teams/Drug Related Harm teams and the proactive multi-agency work between Local Authorities, Police and voluntary sector there is an increasing need to counter the threat of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), County Lines Gangs (CLG), Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Youth Violence and the carrying of weapons within Portsmouth & Havant.

Excellent existing exploitation training is provided by Safeguarding Boards to professionals but there is still a need for increased credible and assessable workshops that offers practical advice to professionals, licensees, parent groups, carers, community members.

ACN's previous work on this agenda piloted by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and then funded through Home Office’s Ending Gang Violence and Exploitation Local Project Fund has received positive feedback and recognition. On a weekly basis in Hampshire, ACN's management team receive at least two requests from different professional, community groups and schools requesting more Urban Pure Solutions or Alter Ego workshops covering CCE/CLG to support their awareness and to better safeguard. The request is often for increased knowledge and also practical advice that is clear and delivered using language and techniques that is appropriate to their needs.

The threat of exploitation (CCE, CLG, CSE) and gang association and the risk of increase young people carrying weapons is influenced by a number of external and complex factors. An increased prevention and awareness approach is required.

Project staff

  • Dr Catherine McNamara – Head of School (Art, Design & Performance), Reader in Applied Theatre, PI for the project (Jan-Sept 2020*)
  • Dr Erika Hughes – Academic Lead (Performance), Course Leader BA (Hons) Drama & Performance (Jan-Sept 2020*)
  • Ian Nicholson – Freelance Project Lead (Jan-Sept 2020*)

*Possible extension, due to covid19 pandemic

Facilitating engagement with the target group

When the bid was successful, Julian Wadsworth met with Dr Catherine McNamara (new in post as of January 2019) and the details of the project were re-visited. The agreement in principle evolved through one-to-one conversation, followed by a meeting with staff from the Guildhall Trust, ACN and University.

This involved revisiting the constraints, availability and expertise of the individuals based at these organisation. It was agreed that Dr McNamara would lead the project from UoP and the creative output would not be the piece of theatre with Q&A, but a digital interactive story for use in facilitated workshops with young people.

A freelance artist was engaged to lead the creative development of the digital resource and the planning of the workshop programme. Dr Erika Hughes provided a link with the BA (Hons) Drama & Performance curriculum via the Applied Theatre module. Julian Wadsworth and Dr McNamara then convened a meeting with key stakeholders including the Police & Drug Related Harm Team, PSCB and the Youth Offending Team.

Examples of activities delivered

Through close multi-agency partnership working, the project team identifies those professionals, parents, carers and community members who will benefit from increased awareness of the risk factors and signs of CCE. The project offers practical advice and safeguarding information to trusted adults to offer increased support to young people who are vulnerable to exploitation or who are being exploited.

The project works closely with partners including Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board, social care, schools and community agencies to identify vulnerable places & vulnerable cohorts of young people who trigger initial concerns. Subsequently delivering high quality and creative awareness raising experiences which promote resilience, educate and inform young people - so reducing the risk of young people, becoming victims of CCE or transitioning from victim to a perpetrator of CCE.

How activities met the identified needs

Testimonial and evaluations are collected during the process and alongside distribution of the resource. 

Objectives currently being delivered for the ACN to use: 

  • Number of professionals, parent/carer's groups, licensees and community members attend Borders and drama workshops across Portsmouth & Havent.
  • Targeting 70% better informed with increased understanding of the risks and dangers of CL/CCE to young people and communities.
  • Targeting 70% feeling more confident to intervene & offer practical advice to young people in their care.
  • Targeting 70% better able to identify warnings signs of a child being involved in CL/CCE or at risk and to safeguard/report.
  • Targeting 70% better informed of statutory and voluntary sector services that can offer.
  • Diversionary and targeted support for young people exhibiting vulnerabilities to CCE/CL.
  • 800 young people experiencing the creative resource across Portsmouth & Havant.
  • 60% of young people report of having increased awareness and a better understanding of the threats of cross-regional exploitation and also gang involvement and consequences of carrying weapons.
  • 50% now aware of where to go for help and support including national and local phone contact details

Outcomes and impacts of the activities

The project is ongoing, but the outcomes intended are:

  • Increase awareness of professionals, parents/carers, business of the risks & dangers of CCE/CL
  • Increase confidence of professionals, community members and parent/carers to identify signs & dangers of CCE/CL and are better able to protect, intervene and offer support to young people
  • Increased awareness of professionals, licensees & community members of the CPI reporting process
  • Increased awareness of young people to the risk and dangers of CCE/CL/Gang involvement and weapons and who to go to for help
  • Increased personal resilience of young people to criminal exploitation, assisting them to address and/or combat the threats of individuals that wish to do them harm