This week we have undertaken a range 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.
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.”
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 us on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.
What we have been doing through out the week
Nest CSE Toolkit Launch
The week was kicked off on Monday with a conference, aimed at teachers and youth workers in Blackburn, where a toolkit to help tackle child sexual exploitation was launched.
Nest Lancashire and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office have been working with Lancashire Constabulary, teachers and professionals from across the county to develop the toolkit which will provide materials to explore different CSE topics as part of the curriculum or within their area of work.
Also speaking were two young people, who bravely told their stories to a packed room of delegates, both highlighting how difficult it can be for victims to speak up and get help; where they thought the police and other agencies could make improvements and how important it is for all of us to be able to recognise the signs of abuse.
To find out more about the toolkit and how to access click here
Missing From Home Workshops
During the week a series of workshops have taken place exploring at how we deal with and investigate reports of missing people; how we assess the risk to individuals; what are the benefits of working together with other police forces and agencies and how to deal with people who are regularly go missing.
Whilst many investigations do not relate to children or young people at risk of or experiencing child sexual exploitation, going missing can be identified as is an indication of possible exploitation, either criminal or sexual.
On Tuesday the national charity PACE (Parents against Child Exploitation) held an event at Police HQ for professionals. The crucial role parents play in safeguarding their children can be overlooked by agencies involved in tackling CSE and PACE aim to provide information support and guidance to an increasing number of families who are living with the impact of abuse and to professionals in relation to how they can work with families affected. Linsday Dalton, Head of Partnerships, Development and Training along with the parent of an abuse victim shared their experiences of what effective support look like and how professionals and the charity can support families during these difficult times.
Child Sexual Exploitation Conference
On Wednesday we held our annual Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Conference in Blackpool. The theme of the day was education and prevention and the speakers came from a variety of specialist companies charities and agencies dedicated to improving prevention and outcomes for victims of abuse.
Superintendent Ian Whitehead, Head of Lancashire Constabulary Public Protection Unit said: “Education of what constitutes a healthy relationship is key to today’s children and requires a focus from all of us who work directly with and on behalf of children to ensure they are protected from harm. CSE remains a National threat and priority for us all and Lancashire Constabulary, along with partners, is dedicated to ensuring our specialist staff consistently provide the expertise and have the necessary skills to tackle modern day CSE.”
Thoughout the week officers from across the county have been visiting schools, taking part in assemblies, discussing issues such as sexting and raising awareness of the signs of CSE with pupils.
The HQ Public Protection Unit delivered an awareness raising session in conjunction with Men against Violence, a local charity and are delivering a session in London later this month to share experiences and best practice within the multi-agency teams currently in situ in Lancashire.
Bespoke GP and pharmacy sessions have been run during the week in East Lancashire to highlight to health practitioners opportunities for spotting signs of CSE with children and young people they come into contact with.
Pop up police stations were set up at various supermarkets across the Blackpool area where officers and specialist CSE workers gave out information to young people and their families raising awareness of the signs of CSE and how to get help.