Contextual Safeguarding

Contextual Safeguarding

Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families.  It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse.  Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships.

At Oakwood School we work in partnership with a range of agencies to safeguard our students and raise awareness of the dangers surrounding safeguarding risks outside of the home and school environment, this is identified as contextual safeguarding.

In partnership with Surrey Police we actively promote information to safeguard our students from County Lines.

What is County Lines?

County lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups (OCGs) use phone lines to move and supply drugs, usually from cities into smaller towns and rural areas.

They exploit vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction issues, by recruiting them to distribute the drugs, often referred to as ‘drug running’.

Indicators that a young person may be involved in gang activity or a county lines enterprise:

  • Displaying polarised views from family and friends
  • Spending time with a new group of friends, potentially older or from out of the area
  • Changing their appearance and clothing
  • Becoming withdrawn from family and friends
  • Going missing or not disclosing their whereabouts
  • Going by a new nickname
  • Using signal or code to communicate with friends
  • In possession of weapons or improvised weapons
  • Involved in the misuse of drugs or alcohol
  • In possession of unexplainable amounts of money or new expensive gifts e.g. mobile phones or jewellery

How to report county lines activity

If you believe a young or vulnerable person may be involved in county lines or gang activity and could be at risk of harm you can contact the Children's Single Point of Access (SPA) or the Adult Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).  You can also email your concerns to: (children) or (adults).

Alternatively, if you think someone you know is involved in a county lines enterprise, you can report it online or call Surrey Police on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency).

Further links:

County lines | Surrey Police

Criminal exploitation and gangs | NSPCC

Parent/Carers – Safe4Me

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