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Detective appears on Abuse Talk channel to discuss dangers of young person exploitation

PUBLISHED: 17:30 11 August 2020

Detective Anoushka Dunic - currently deployed with the Gangs Engagement Team across Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering - discussed the dangers of exploitation during a recent appearance on the Abuse Talk podcast. Picture: Anoushka Dunic

Detective Anoushka Dunic - currently deployed with the Gangs Engagement Team across Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering - discussed the dangers of exploitation during a recent appearance on the Abuse Talk podcast. Picture: Anoushka Dunic

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A detective specialising in keeping young people out of gangs has appeared on author Jennifer Gilmour’s Abuse Talk podcast to discuss the exploitation of young people.

Det Con Anoushka Dunic is the East Area’s Gang Engagement Officer — a specialist in diversion and community support across Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering. She identified four broad stages which exploited young people will experience:

• Targeting

• Experience

• Hook

• Trapped

According to Det Con Dunic, the first stage is defined by a “power imbalance”: “A person has a need which is targeted by the exploiter.”

Those with household dysfunction are often targeted; exploiters will seek to identify any vulnerability.

Gifts may be given at the experience stage; the aim of this is to render the young person “indebted”, which happens the moment they accept something on offer.

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The detective, a mother of two, warned parents to look out for unexplained purchases and receipts as a sign of this.

Once indebted, the exploiter is likely to involve the young person in their business, in order to make them feel “like they’re part of it”.

This may create an illusion of control. Det Con Dunic emphasised that there is “never any point” at which the young person has control, but “the child won’t recognise this”.

The hook stage follows soon after, where the young person may be given a street name to make them feel powerful.

This power isn’t “true”; rather it has been “gifted” by the exploiter and can be taken away at any time.

But the young person, oblivious to this, will then become “hooked on the adrenalin of the situation”.

This transition makes it increasingly difficult to return to normal life, which results in the fourth and final stage.

According to Det Con Dunic, older gang members will employ a range of tactics to further push the young person into debt, resulting in “a life for that child which is full of fear”.

In terms of solutions, education and community are the two gateways; children, parents, teachers and communities must be educated, and more must be done to foster a sense of community and belonging.

To watch Jennifer’s interview with Det Con Dunic, visiting this link.


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