Multi-award winning video production agency Affixxius
launches a new campaign for the Leicestershire Police and the Violence Reduction network that aims to raise awareness around child exploitation.
This spot aims to shed a light on the signs that point toward an increasingly prevalent issue in the UK - the exploitation of children for county lines drug trafficking. County lines is the name given to drug dealing where organised criminal groups (OCGs) pressurise vulnerable people and children to transport, store and sell drugs in smaller county towns.
Having previously successfully worked with the Leicestershire Police to produce a film (‘Kayleigh’s Love Story’) to highlight the dangers of online grooming and child sexual exploitation, Affixxius were called on once again to craft a film for the regional law enforcement service. This time, ‘Are you listening?’ aims to highlight the importance of recognising changing behaviours in children that may indicate they have become exploited for county lines drug trafficking.
In order to educate viewers about real situations the three-minute film reveals different scenarios, which are based on real-life cases that were brought to Leicestershire Police.
Opening on a seemingly normal everyday situation, a grandma and her grandson watch TV at home, the story quickly turns 180 degrees. The grandma realises the boy is worried about something and quickly assumes it’s about his parents. The viewer is introduced to the unspoken conversation, where the boy admits what truly is bothering him - “I’m holding drugs for a bloke out there, I’ve already been out to his car four times tonight. I’m helping him move crack around the village nan. He says I’ve got no choice now.” But she doesn’t seem to hear him and instead smiles and replies, “That’s nice love”.
In the next story a boy and his football coach are seen in a changing room. The coach notices the boy’s boots and asks if they’re new, in response the child answers “I had to sell 200-quid worth of weed this week to keep people off my back”. The coach doesn’t hear or ask questions despite finding a suspicious receipt. In a third scenario, a girl’s phone keeps pinging with messages and her dad goes to check in on her, saying it’s “a bit late to be chatting love, isn’t it?” In her real ‘unheard’ response to her dad, she admits she is holding a gun for someone named Daren and that she is not afraid to use it if she has to.
The last scenario occurs in a school corridor, between a teacher and a student. The boy who seems visibly anxious bumps into the teacher and knocks off her papers. He stops and turns to her, but she doesn’t hear what he says next, ”I’m missing three drop offs now Miss, that’s £200 they’re gonna want back. Which I haven’t got”. The teacher's response is to tell the boy to quickly go to class or he would be late. Right before he disappears from sight she calls for him to wait, realising something is wrong.
The four scenarios aim to display the main signs associated with child exploitation and drug trafficking - changes in behaviour, new possessions / belongings and increased messages and calls. The spot finishes by challenging the audience with the line, “It’s up to everyone to know the signs and to really listen, before it’s too late. Are you listening?”
The film was shot during covid, with the video production agency following all government advice for a safe filming process, ensuring all crew members wore masks throughout and all cast were keeping a distance.
Director David Whayman comments: “We were keen for the different scenarios to be based on real cases and with a social issue like county lines and child exploitation, sadly we were not short of hard hitting examples. This meant it was more about how we execute these stories, than having to manufacture them ourselves. We deliberately played with framing in this film in order to make the characters feel like they were miles apart and out of control. The only time characters are placed in the middle of the frame is at the end, where we slide over and place the teacher in the centre and then we see our student, also in the middle of frame, bringing our characters into view and a sense that regaining control is not hopeless.The most challenging part of the process was finding the right cast. Once we had really good actors and locations, we knew that the concept was strong and that we would be able to deliver some really strong emotions on screen.”
The spot is launched by Leicestershire Police on all of their social channels.