A SCOTTISH child protection group is urging members of the public to keep an eye out for children who may be at risk of abuse.

Child Protection Committees (CPC) Scotland, a national group of child protection professionals, is supporting every effort by the Scottish Government, local authorities and the third sector to keep children safe from harm during the enforced break.

It comes as the National Crime Agency (NCA) warns that 300,000 people in the UK pose as a threat to children as paedophiles look to exploit the Coronavirus lockdown.

Investigators have identified offenders discussing opportunities to abuse children during the Covid-19 crisis in chats online as police warn of a spike in abuse with schools closed and youngsters spending more time on the internet.

CPCScotland Vice Chair Tam Baillie also recognises the impact a significant change in day-to-day life may have on vulnerable children.

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Mr Baillie explained: “Schools and nurseries play a central role in contributing to the safety of all our children, especially those who may be at risk of abuse and neglect.

“When children are not at school we lose the ability to monitor their wellbeing on a daily basis, so we are pleased that careful consideration is being given to supporting those children and families who may need it during these demanding times.”

CPC Scotland has stressed the need for the public to join efforts to protect potentially vulnerable children during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Scottish Government has also issued supplementary guidance for professional leaders in children’s services and child protection committees.

During the Covid-19 outbreak child protection still requires good professional judgement based on assessment and evidence informed by the child and the family.

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Friends and family members are being encouraged to look for signs that individuals or groups are using the current crisis to criminally or sexually exploit children.

Mr Baillie is urging everyone to play a part to keep Scotland’s children safe.

He continued: “The onus of care has now shifted from schools to local communities, and we’re asking everyone to keep their eyes and ears open.

“Local people always provide a significant protective factor for children and that’s even more important at a time when families may be under significant additional stress. If you’re at all worried about a child’s welfare, it’s much better to say something than do nothing.”

CPC Scotland asks everyone to take action if they’re concerned about a child or children. Those who are worried shouldn’t hesitate to contact their local authority social work department, or call the police on 101.

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