Crossing the Line: Gangs, County Lines, and a Contextual Safeguarding Approach | 10am – 4pm, Thursday 25th September 2024 | CPD accredited

10:00am-4:00pm 25 September 2024

online learning day


September 25, 2024 - 10:00


September 25, 2024 - 16:00

The training is Bera award-winning CPD certified and has a maximum group size of 20.



Crossing the line was developed by the University of Kent’s Centre for Child Protection (CCP) in response to the growing issue of gangs, county lines and knife crime.

In England alone, approximately 27,000 children were identified as gang members by the Children’s Commissioner, who also estimated that 34,000 more have been the victim of gang-related crime (1). An additional 120,000 children – one in every 25 teens in England- are estimated to experience broader risk factors associated with exploitation (2).

Street gangs have re-defined themselves as ruthless drug-selling businesses (3) which often use young people not known to the police to transport drugs from cities to market and coastal towns. Here, drugs can be stored in the homes of vulnerable people and drug deals are set up using mobile phones (“county lines”). Visible signs of gang membership are no longer desirable as they attract negative attention. These new models of recruitment and expansion place a wider range of teenagers and children at significant risk, and use coercion, intimidation and violence (including sexual violence).

Effective multi agency working at local level using a contextual safeguarding approach (4) is essential. This recognises that, as children grow up they are often more influenced by a range of environments and people outside their family. By understanding this approach and building on the substantial body of work from the Contextual Safeguarding Network it is possible to create a fresh approach to multi agency working and engage the wider community.

Rising levels of family poverty, higher rates of school absence since the Covid pandemic, ongoing concerns over temporary and permanent school exclusions, and ‘hidden’ routes of communication through social media, are all factors which can encourage or coerce children and young people into criminal activity.


Aims of the training

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

  • use the contextual safeguarding approach to develop an understanding of criminal exploitation, knife crime and county lines
  • via different characters aged nine to 16, 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


How does the simulation training work?
  • Use the interactive character maps in small groups
  • Assess protective factors and complete an activity
  • Participate in a whole group discussion on findings
  • Create a tailored contextual safeguarding plan
  • There is a live facilitator to help guide you through, and explore concepts


Advantages of this simulation training
  • Learn by doing and making ‘live’ decisions for better retention
  • Offers change of pace
  • Allows high risk decision making in a safe environment
  • Improves critical thinking by analysing of each character’s journey


  1. Children’s Commissioner for England – Longfield 2019
  2. Parliamentary Education Committee, Child exploitation and county lines, 4 July 2023-
  3. ‘From Postcodes to profits’; Whittaker et al 2018
  4. The contextual safeguarding approach, originally developed by Dr. Carlene Firmin of the University of Bedfordshire

Format of the training

  • This training is delivered by the Centre for Child Protection , part of the University of Kent; it takes place online, and combines an introductory presentation, followed by small group interaction in the simulation, and whole group discussion. The session is fully facilitated by an expert trainer.
  • Details of the sessions, with approximate timings, are given in the Agenda section
  • The session is fully interactive and you will be expected to participate in discussions, which have lots of space for questions


What you will get from us

  • Once you have booked, you will be emailed a brief confirmation.
  • Joining instructions will be emailed 1-2 weeks before the date of the training
  • After you have completed the training, we will email a Certificate of Attendance for your CPD records


Technical heads up

  • If you are part of a large organisation, please check with your IT department that there are no firewalls which will prevent you from accessing the training.
  • We’re here to help, so if you have any problems, just call us on 0115 916 3104 or email us on


Unforeseen circumstances

  • In the rare circumstance that the facilitator is unable to deliver the training, we will inform delegates as soon as possible, and will arrange another date for the training.

Delegate fee:


£125 + VAT


Want to book a larger group (over 10)?

  • Training can be delivered just for your group on a date of your choice


Call 0115 916 3104 or email to arrange


Booking Terms and Conditions

  • The latest date for cancellation of standard rate places is 2 weeks prior to the day of the training event; an administration fee of 25% will be charged for cancellation
  • Substitutions will be accepted, but these must be notified in writing PRIOR to the first day of the training event
  • It is the responsibility of each participant to ensure that they set aside time to access the online sessions; unexpected work or personal events will not entitle the delegate to access later events without re-booking
  • In the rare circumstance that the facilitator is unable to deliver the training, we will inform delegates as soon as possible, and will arrange another date for the training.

Emma Soutar

Emma Soutar is the Lead Trainer in the Law Society and Social Justice’s Centre for Child Protection (CCP). As part of her work at CCP, she has developed an expertise in grooming, child exploitation, online safety of young people and child protection more broadly. She uses this knowledge in the development of innovative serious game simulations built in collaboration with key safeguarding stakeholders. She delivers training packages to professionals; including her recent collaboration in developing ‘May and Bay’ a serious game aimed at tackling trafficking and sextortion in Thailand and Cambodia. This was funded through UNICEF’s, End Violence Against Children Fund. She is also co-investigating an Economic and Social Research Council project aimed at developing specialist trauma informed training for police officers investigating child sexual exploitation. More information about Emma and her work can be found at


The Centre for Child Protection (CCP)

Part of the University of Kent, the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) was launched in October 2012 and from the beginning has aimed to get to the heart of child protection training by using innovative ideas and the latest technology. It is led and informed by a team of experts in the field of child protection, who have experience of working with traumatised children, young people, and families; and combines contemporary research with cutting-edge child protection simulations and an online, multi-professional and international Advanced Child Protection MA. CCP’s programmes of study are designed for a variety of multi-professional child protection workers, including social care, education, health, law enforcement, law, and specialist child welfare services.





The landscape of criminal exploitation in UK


Simulation explained


Scenario 1 – Ryan (aged 9)

Work through Ryan’s map in small groups, identify protective factors and complete the activity


Comfort break


Scenario 2 – Ben ( aged 13)

Work through Ryan’s map in small groups, identify protective factors and complete the activity


Scenario 3 – Chelsea ( aged15)




Scenario 4 – Brooke (aged 12)


Scenario 5 – Reece (aged 16)


Comfort break


Scenario 5 continued


Create a contextual safeguarding plan for the community


Conclusion and Q&A

  • Secondary schools
  • Virtual headteachers and staff
  • Education psychologists, learning mentors and truancy officers
  • Organisations offering alternative education provision
  • Higher education
  • Children’s charities
  • Police
  • Youth Offending Services
  • Children and family social services
  • Family support services
  • Residential care staff
  • Housing services
  • Children’s health services
  • Youth services
  • Sports organisations
  • Further education



0115 9163104