Youngsters across Swindon can help get themselves and their mates out of a tricky spot.

And that will teach them more about how to look out for each other if they find themselves in real-life difficulties.

That’s the theory behind a new project being rolled out across all the secondary schools and colleges in the borough to help teenagers keep out of trouble.

The Save a Friend initiative set up by Swindon Borough Council, with the support of Wiltshire police aims to help secondary pupils recognise the signs of exploitation in their friends, and speak up about it if they think something’s wrong.

It features an escape room exercise, were teams of friends try and solve problems and get out of a tight space - such rooms are booming business worldwide.

Bernice Weiss, the council's safeguarding lead, said: “We know teenagers are extremely loyal to their friends and we want to build on that.

"The project is called Save a Friend, we want children to build on their curiosity, to look out for each other and we want to give them the tools to recognise if something might be wrong.

"The escape room is designed so that a school can set it up in a classroom or even a large storeroom if they want to do it. It's designed to help children with teamwork, with problem solving, with making good decisions.

"We hope it leads them to making good decision in real life. It was designed to be something different from a lesson or a talk."

While the project is focused on issues of exploitation - sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and County Lines drugs operations - it was also designed to reassure children, their parents and carers

Marie Horton, education commissioner at the council, said: "We are focusing on contemporary risks, but those risks are small.

"It's easy to be very worried if you read the newspaper or watch TV, but in Swindon, there isn't a big risk at the end of the street. This will help to keep those small risks small."

Every school has been assigned a police officer, or PCSO, who will visit during the sessions.

PC Rachel Barnett of the force's early intervention team said: "We always want to go to the child before they come to us - in the custody suite.

"This is a great opportunity to get the message across about exploitation of children. We want them and their parents to know we aim not to criminalise a child - we always want to go after the exploiter, not an exploited child."

Save a Friend began this week and will be rolled out across town in the next two weeks.