Teachers are among frontline workers who will be handed new guidance in a first-of-its-kind document to help prevent children and vulnerable adults from being drawn into organised crime.
The ‘Practitioner Guidance on Criminal Exploitation’, issued by the Scottish Government, stems from work commissioned last year by the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce.
It aims to support a shared understanding of criminal exploitation and to help professionals identify those at risk from serious organised crime.
This includes watching out for signs such as individuals travelling to different areas or locations they would not usually visit, changes in peer groups, and individuals who may have been groomed by crime gangs appearing agitated and nervous about answering calls, or texts and going out.
The guidance will be made available to all frontline workers, including in social work, policing, the NHS, education settings and the third-sector, who come into regular contact with children and vulnerable adults.
Justice secretary Angela Constance said that the guidance will give people who work with children and vulnerable adults “the confidence to act” which in turn will enable help to be more quickly delivered.
She added: “Scotland’s organised crime gangs are not confined to the big cities, and they seek to exploit people across the country, impacting everyone. Understanding this and how this despicable practice can finally be ended is crucial in supporting the strong partnerships we have created to tackle these illegal groups.
“We all pay the price for their callous disregard for the law. This guidance is an important step towards better helping victims of exploitation and stifling the organised criminals of the lifeblood they need to keep operating.”
Paul Carberry, chair of Serious Organised Crime Taskforce Divert strand, said: “This guidance will give professionals from across multiple agencies more comprehensive knowledge, understanding and develop a wider perspective about criminal exploitation.
“It is essential that frontline public professionals, such as NHS, social work, and school staff, as well as Police Scotland, recognise the signs and have a shared knowledge of criminal exploitation.
“The work of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce will help Scotland realise a vision where all individuals are free from criminal exploitation. This guidance will take us one step further in that aim.”