A SHORT film has been released to warn young people in West Berkshire about the danger of sexual exploitation and radicalisation.
The film, shot in the Newbury area, is part of a new teaching package and will be shown in schools across the district.
Pc Tim Emery from Thames Valley Police said: “West Berkshire has a very low threat level in terms of radicalisation and online grooming, but that doesn’t mean we should be complacent.
“Children can be exposed to a lot of different ideas and images online, so Thames Valley Police works closely with students and teachers to raise awareness of this, and to make sure that they understand what to do and who to speak to if they see something that upsets them.”
The teaching package, called Recognise, has been developed by West Berkshire’s Safer Communities Partnership and aims to help young people recognise signs of exploitation in themselves and their friends.
It includes a new short film, which follows the stories of Rob and Emma, two ordinary people living ordinary lives.
Throughout their story, there are subtle changes in their behaviour which could be linked to radicalisation, exploitation or other hidden crime issues.
Through the film, young people are told that while ‘it might be nothing, it could be something’ and encourages them to notice any change and share their concerns with others.
Councillor Marcus Franks, executive member for community safety, said: “This film empowers our young people to keep themselves and their friends’ safe by knowing how to recognise signs of exploitation.
“Through the film they get to see a different perspective and can reflect on behaviours they might see in their own life and how it might be part of a bigger picture.
“It’s an excellent resource and I welcome it being rolled out across the district.”
The teaching package, which was produced with the help of £10,000 funding from the Home Office, started being distributed to schools earlier this month.
The film was shot partly at St Bartholomew’s School in Newbury.
Talking about the importance of the issue the school’s deputy headteacher, Maureen Sims, said: “We were delighted to be able to support the production of this DVD. Keeping young people safe in today’s society has to be a team effort.
“The subtle signs of sexual exploitation and radicalisation must be known to young people.
“Having this excellent resource to support the work of all schools in this area is much appreciated.”
The Safer Communities Partnership aims to create a safe and healthy environment by working with other partner agencies to protect the community and ensure that those who live and work in West Berkshire feel safe.
It includes West Berkshire Council, Thames Valley Police, Thames Valley Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Company, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Housing Associations and schools.
Anyone concerned about someone they know should contact the police on 999 if they are in imminent danger or call the non-emergency 101.