PCC Funding Targets Online Child Abuse
Two innovative projects in Hertsmere that will help to raise awareness around the risk of child sexual exploitation and provide support for people with drug and alcohol dependencies, and mental ill-health, have received more than £45,000 of funding from Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Hertsmere Borough Council, in partnership with national charity Crime Stoppers, has secured the funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner‘s Community Safety Grant. 

This fund is provided to support work with partner organisations that play a vital role in keeping Hertfordshire’s communities safe.

The Be Fearless Against Abuse initiative is a two-year project that aims to educate professionals who work with young people on the dangers of online grooming. It will also fund an outreach programme to 11 to 16 year olds in Hertsmere schools, to help youngsters learn how to better protect themselves online.

This initiative follows on from a series of e-safety workshops last year held in Hertsmere schools, run by the council in partnership with Herts Schools Partnership with funding from the PCC.

In addition, a two-year initiative will also be delivered by Herts Mind Network to provide practical support for victims with drug and alcohol problems and those suffering from mental health issues. A support worker will provide services and liaise with appropriate partners in order to make real lifestyle changes.

Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, David Lloyd said: “These two grants really support my Community Safety and Criminal Justice Plan. We’ve seen an increase in reports of offences involving vulnerable victims – such as child abuse. Therefore it is vital that all children are educated about the dangers of online media as much as possible.

“The purpose of the Community Safety Grant is also to put the victim at the centre.  Any provision that will help them from being destructive to themselves and indeed others will reduce strain on other services and also make Hertfordshire a safer place to live.”

Valerie Kane, Community Safety Manager, said: “We’re delighted that these two very worthwhile projects have been awarded funding for the next two years.

“The all-pervasiveness of social media means that children now spend large amounts of time online, which can put them at risk of abuse.

“While it may not be possible to prevent or limit internet use, it is possible to equip young people with the information and skills they need to navigate that world and stay safe.

“We also want adults to understand the risks, so they can spot the signs that a child they work with or are responsible for may be in danger of becoming a victim or has already been targeted.”

The Safer Minds initiative will enable a full-time community support worker to be based at the health and wellbeing centre, Number 10, in Leeming Road, Borehamwood, as well as fund outreach support to other parts of the borough.

Ms Kane added: “The Safer Minds initiative is about helping people who are really struggling to cope, and as a result represent a burden to front-line services such as the NHS, police or fire and rescue service.

“The community support worker will work with these individuals, who may be referred to the programme through the police, the council or charities, or can be self-referred, to develop a support plan that is tailored to their needs.

“By providing this level of intense, holistic support at this stage, we can prevent their problems escalating further and reduce the costs to already over-stretched public services.”
 More information on the Police and Crime Commissioner's Community Safety Grants can be found here.