Lancashire Constabulary is committed to preventing child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice. It is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere - regardless of their social or ethnic background.
It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. It can take many forms, whether it occurs through a seemingly 'consensual' relationship with an older boyfriend, or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes.
Sexual exploitation is child abuse and, although they may not realise it, it puts the young victim at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
Many young people who are being abused do not realise they are at risk and will not call for help. They may see themselves as willing participants when in fact their behaviour is anything but consenting.
And, while there is no stereotypical victim of exploitation, there are warning signs in children's behaviour that may indicate something is wrong – and if you know what you're looking for, you can take steps to help them.
What are the signs you need to know?
And what makes a child more at risk?
Offenders come from many different social and ethnic backgrounds but they all have one thing in common. They are abusing young people and are using their status or position to exploit vulnerable victims.
We will continue to target, warn and prosecute offenders to hit home the message that this type of behaviour is not just unacceptable, it is criminal, and we will pursue those people involved and bring them to justice, irrespective of their backgrounds.
Nest Lancashire has been set up to support young people aged 10 to 18 who have been affected by crime or subjected to bullying, threats or harassment. You can talk to them in confidence and all of the services are free of charge. Call them 0300 111 0323
You can also download Lancashire's Youth App, WHAY where you will find lots of helpful advice for young people, offering free resources for young people on a range of matters including mental health, knife crime and sex & relationships.
There are dedicated teams of people working right across Lancashire from many different organisations to help victims escape the cycle of abuse.
The teams share relevant information and coordinate the most appropriate response for each case which helps to identify and disrupt offenders and identify those who pose the greatest risk. It also means that a whole range of support for children, their families and carers can be put in place where needed.
The teams work closely with young people who are being exploited to firstly get them to recognise that they have been, or are being, exploited and to find ways of helping them to break free from the position they find themselves coerced into.
Education packages are also delivered in many schools across the county, highlighting dangers, warning signs and raising awareness amongst teenagers about sexual exploitation. Similar presentations are delivered to parents and referrals have come as a direct result of this work.
Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can contact police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
The teams can be contacted directly on the following numbers/email addresses:
The national scheme means that anyone can ask the police to check whether an individual who has access to children has committed any child sexual offences. Started in 2008, the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme was developed in consultation with Sara Payne, the former victims' champion, along with the police, and children's charities.
Disclosure takes place if that person has convictions for sexual offences against children and there is reasonable cause to believe a child is in danger of being seriously harmed. Details of previous convictions will be disclosed to the person who is best placed to protect the child. Read more and find out how to apply at our Child Sex Offenders Disclosures Scheme page.