Lancashire Police has undertaken a week of activity to continue raising awareness across the county of child sexual exploitation.
Partners from local councils, trading standards, schools, the NHS, children’s charities and other agencies have been working in conjunction with officers to focus on prevention, awareness, enforcement and engagement with local communities.
The week was kicked off on Monday with a conference in Blackburn hosted by Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, where a toolkit aimed at teachers and youth workers, was launched to help tackle child sexual exploitation.
Speaking at the conference, Assistant Chief Constable Tim Jacques said: “We need to spot the signs of CSE and have confidence to know what to do and when to step in, by working together we can support the most vulnerable members of our society.”
A series of workshops have taken place exploring how the police deal with and investigate reports of missing people and the national charity PACE (Parents against Child Exploitation) held an event for professionals who support families affected by child sexual exploitation.
Lots more work has taken place by local child sexual exploitation teams across the county, including visiting schools, supermarkets and GP surgeries.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, Lancashire Constabulary received 1,814 child sexual exploitation referrals and 843 crimes related to child sexual exploitation were recorded.
Child sexual exploitation is child abuse. It is complex and can manifest itself in different ways but essentially it involves children and young people being coerced into performing sexual acts on their abuser or others. Often this may be in return for some kind of reward – for example, accommodation, drugs or other gifts but many are forced into sex out of fear.
Child sexual exploitation can also occur without physical contact for example when children are groomed; post sexual images of themselves online or are tempted by someone online to meet in the real world. These types of crimes are increasing nationally as well as in Lancashire.
If you are concerned about a young person you know, call Lancashire Constabulary on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.