This interactive training day for professionals uses the training tool Crossing the line to develop an understanding of criminal exploitation, county lines and knife crime and uses a contextual safeguarding* approach to inform practice.
Drawing of a mixed group of young people

Crossing the line was developed by the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) in response to the growing issue of gangs, county lines and knife crime. In the UK there are 27,000 children identifying as gang members and 34,000 gang associated children have been the victims of violent crime in the last 12 months (Longfield 2019).

While it is necessary to have a sense of the scale of the crisis, it is important that we challenge and evolve our understanding of the term ‘gang’. ‘From postcodes to profits’, (Whittaker et al 2018) highlights that gang culture is redefining itself as a ruthless drugs business; one where visible signs of gang membership are no longer desirable as they can attract attention and have the potential to affect the marketplace. Therefore, models of recruitment and expansion have evolved, placing many children at significant risk. In order to better understand this, it is important that we widen and focus our attention on the growing issue of county lines and knife crime.

The Children’s Commissioner’s report ‘Keeping kids safe’ draws parallels to the crisis in child protection from Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) a decade ago. Particularly that many CSE victims were not identified as such and there has been an urgent call to “learn from the mistakes of child sexual exploitation by treating children as victims not perpetrators” (Longfield 2019). Changing the language we use from "gang affiliated" to “criminally exploited” is an important step on this path. 

Another recurring theme is the need for effective multi-agency working on a local level as well as a national scale. The contextual safeguarding approach recognises young people are influenced by a whole range of environments and people outside of their family. By understanding this approach and building on the substantial body of work from the network it is possible to create a fresh approach to multi-agency working and engage the wider community.

To find out more about the development of Crossing the line, see our research website.

Knowledge and skills

Using a new interactive, research and theory based tool aimed at practitioners, participants will:

  • use the contextual safeguarding approach to develop understanding of criminal exploitation, knife crime and county lines
  • via different characters aged nine to 24, explore different roles, risks and responsibilities within criminal exploitation networks
  • use compelling research based ‘characters’ to assess the risks of grooming, entrapment and serious violence
  • evaluate risks in terms of gender and roles and across the life course
  • through an interactive street map linked to the characters, evaluate safeguarding pathways for individuals and evaluate the potential risks associated with different types of interventions
  • explore professionals within the context of communities who are key in assessing risks and safeguarding children and young people involved in criminal exploitation
  • explore and have the opportunity to develop a tailored action plan within a safeguarding framework for working with criminally exploited children

The Crossing the line training is designed for:

  • child protection professionals
  • safeguarding leads
  • youth workers.

Please see our booking page for details.  

We are happy to arrange a bespoke group CPD session at your organisation. Please email

*The approach of contextual safeguarding was originally developed by Dr Carlene Firmin at the University of Bedfordshire's Contextual Safeguarding Network.

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