In March 2015 Sue Mountstevens supported a national day raising awareness of CSE
Efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation across the West have received a boost after more than £1m national funding was awarded for a new innovative cross-border response to the issue.
The move will see a new service launched across Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire which will help identify and support victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
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.
This innovative project will be the first multi-agency, cross-border service to reduce the risk of young people becoming victims of CSE, ensure consistent and integrated services are available to support very vulnerable young victims and to support organisations to share information to disrupt crime.
The service was the subject of a bid to the Home Office Innovation Fund by the local Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and supported by both police forces and partners across the Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire areas which include:
- Local Authorities
- Clinical Commissioning Groups
- Safeguarding Children’s Boards
More than £2m will be made available for the project over the next two years which includes a total of £900,000 from both PCCs, local authorities across the area and Barnardo’s, together with £1.2m from the Home Office.
The new service will see the police, local authorities, health agencies and voluntary organisations work together to tackle CSE in a number of ways including the introduction of specialist workers to work alongside professionals, share information and best practice, raise awareness of CSE and increase training for professionals. A specialist multi-agency risk assessment conference for CSE cases will be introduced.
Speaking about the new service, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “This is a positive step forward which will allow us to become better at identifying the hidden children being exploited and give them the support they need to understand they’ve been exploited and to cope and recover from their experience. It’s an issue which can only be tackled together and with different agencies working even more closely in partnership with each other we can make a real difference.”
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Julian Moss from Avon and Somerset Police added: “The exploitation of children for sex is a grotesque crime and safeguarding victims is a fundamental priority for us.
“The recent high profile investigation in which 13 men were convicted of child sexual exploitation (CSE) offences in Bristol was a benchmark case and showed the true value of agencies working together to protect the victims of these horrific offences.
“Victims of CSE are extremely vulnerable and the expertise of Barnardo’s in this recent case was invaluable as the charity supported the victims throughout the investigation and the resulting court proceedings.
“We will not rest while there is just one potential victim of CSE and this extra funding will undoubtedly help us identify victims faster, respond to their needs better and ensure those who commit CSE offences have no place to hide.”
Duncan Stanway, Assistant Director at Barnardo’s Midlands and South West, said: “Barnardo’s already has strong and effective working relationships with local agencies but we hope this new funding will enable us to share our experience and expertise across an even wider area.
“The scale of the abuse is shocking and more incidences are coming to light. Working together, we can help these children to rebuild their shattered lives and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Posted on Thursday 26th March 2015