A pioneering new service working across Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Swindon is identifying and supporting over a hundred young victims of child sexual exploitation.
The new West of England child sexual exploitation (CSE) service has identified and is supporting 142 children at particularly high risk and this number is expected to rise.
Since its launch in April, the West of England CSE service has 15 dedicated support workers working with the 142 children it has identified. The project has also trained over 350 professionals who work with children to recognise and respond to the signs of CSE.
The West of England CSE service is a collaboration of Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire Police, Barnardo’s and the seven local authorities covering the two police areas. It has been funded by both Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioners, the local authorities, Barnardo’s and the Home Office Innovation Fund.
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “The victims of CSE are extremely vulnerable and often they do not understand they have been exploited. Sexually exploited children suffer adverse consequences that blight their lives. Preventing their exploitation and responding quickly and effectively to stop exploitation will improve outcomes for vulnerable children and this partnership is helping with this vital work. By tackling the problem together with different agencies working even more closely in partnership with each other we can make a real difference.”
Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “One of the main priorities in my Police and Crime Plan is to protect and provide support to the most vulnerable in society to prevent them from becoming victims of crime.
“Perpetrators of child exploitation don’t recognise boundaries. Working together with local police teams across the county boundaries in the west of England, we can share data and intelligence about these individuals, disrupting their activity and bringing them to justice.”
West of England CSE service lead Dave McCallum said: “There is complete determination across the West of England area to identify children most vulnerable to being sexually exploited and help them to stay safe.
“Hundreds of professionals have been trained and dedicated support workers are now supporting 142 children at particularly high risk and this number is rising.
“This long term and consistent support is what children need to survive and recover from their experiences and this work is also helping the police to identify and aggressively go after the perpetrators. Expect to see more people appearing in court and being held to account for the sexual exploitation of vulnerable young people.”
Barnardo’s regional assistant director Duncan Stanway said: “Child sexual exploitation is often a hidden crime, so we are grateful for the support of so many partners who are working together to identify and support the victims.
“We will continue to work with local agencies to help these vulnerable children and young people, and to aid the prosecution of offenders.”
The service has been established to strengthen the focus of existing local work to tackle CSE and learn lessons from good practice nationally.
CSE is a form of child abuse in which victims are manipulated or forced into taking part in a sexual act often in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or accommodation.
Posted on Thursday 3rd December 2015