Today sees the launch of a week of activity aimed at raising awareness within Lancashire on how to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Lancashire Constabulary will undertake a range of educational and operational activities in conjunction with all its partners, focusing on prevention, awareness, enforcement and community engagement.
The week-long programme will include visits to schools and care homes, where officers will explain the importance to children and adults of recognising the signs and risk factors involved in exploitation.
Posters and contact cards for teachers, parents, carers taxi drivers, sports coaches and youth leaders will be distributed to encourage those professionals working with children to know what to look out for, with the key message that it is a very serious offence that can affect any child, anytime and anywhere regardless of their social or ethnic background.
Officers will be attending known hotspots, monitoring licensed premises and carrying out warrants throughout the week across the whole of the county.
The focus is to highlight work that is currently undertaken every day by Lancashire Constabulary and its partners throughout the county, by raising awareness through the week of action.
Detective Superintendent Sue Cawley, head of Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation is extremely important for the constabulary and we are committed to preventing child sexual abuse, supporting victims and bringing those responsible to justice.
“At a time when the media spotlight is upon child sexual exploitation, we are working hard to show that we have learnt lessons from the past and that we are listening to victims, treating them with sensitivity and respect and that we do take their allegations seriously.
“Each day of the awareness week will focus on a specific element linked with child sexual exploitation and officers will be working closely with local communities, councils, children’s charities, schools and the NHS to highlight the different aspects of child sexual exploitation.
“We are determined to stop children being abused and exploited; to prevent harm to those being abused and to help them get out of the exploitative relationship they are in; to bring to justice to all those who commit such abhorrent crimes and to ensure that the public are confident to come forward when they require our help.
“The public quite rightly expects us to protect children from being exploited and that is exactly what we will continue to deliver, as our approach is a long term one that will reach far beyond the week of awareness.
“We would encourage anyone who has been, or knows someone who has been, sexually abused, groomed or exploited to come forward and contact police confident in the knowledge they will be dealt with sensitively and professionally.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “CSE has never been higher on the public agenda – residents rightly want to know their police force is doing all it can to protect their children.
“It is a problem which society as a whole needs to acknowledge and take steps toward addressing – tackling CSE requires not only a multi-agency approach, but everyone living in Lancashire to play a role.
“Here in Lancashire, the Constabulary and our partners have an excellent record when it comes to addressing the issue of CSE but, despite this, it remains a very real problem within our communities – and as your Police and Crime Commissioner I know it is not something we can afford to be complacent about.
“That is why this awareness week is so vitally important, not only to highlight the work the Constabulary and our partners undertake 365 days a year, but also to educate the public. Parents, teachers, youth workers – anyone who comes into contact with children needs to recognise the signs of CSE, and that is what the Lancashire campaign – The More You Know, The More You See – aims to do.
“Only by ensuring communities know the signs of exploitation, can we ensure more children are protected from harm.”