Sussex Police highlight fight against Child Sexual Exploitation

Police and partners in Sussex are joining forces to support today’s National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day.

Wednesday, 18th March 2015, 12:00 pm

The day aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against exploitation and abuse, and adopt a zero tolerance approach to anyone developing inappropriate relationships with young people.

To tackle CSE and raise awareness of the warning signs of CSE, Chelsea’s Choice, a theatre production, will be touring across schools in the county. The play is designed to help spot the signs of sexual exploitation and promote how young people can protect themselves from this kind of abuse.

The national awareness day follows the launch of Operation Kite with partners in Sussex in 2014, which helped to increase intelligence and reports to police, social services and the third sector.

Detective Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell, Public Protection said: “Child sexual exploitation is child abuse, pure and simple. It is perpetrated against young men and women irrespective of background. What makes it so difficult to tackle is the fact that many young people who are being abused believe they are in a consensual relationship. They simply do not recognise the true nature of their abusers who exploit their naivety.

“While there is no stereotypical victim of exploitation, there are common warning signs in children’s behaviour that may indicate that something is wrong. It is important that these warning signs are well understood, consistently monitored and where appropriate, acted upon. This is why we are promoting Chelsea’s Choice to help avoid young people falling into the clutches of sexual predators.

Police and partners are receiving training to ensure people experiencing or at risk from CSE get the help they need.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne added: “No child should ever be the victim of this kind of horrific abuse and agencies that work with children have a collective responsibility to work together to stamp it out.

“I want all victims and those at risk of sexual exploitation, to know they have somewhere to go where they will be listened to and believed. Most importantly of all, when a young person does come forward, swift action must be taken.

“To support the fight against sexual abuse I have put funding in place for a new post within Sussex Police that will see the role-holder work directly with partners to build a ‘rich picture’ of intelligence gathering information from the police, education, health, and social care, to help safeguard vulnerable children.

“This new post will strengthen the existing framework for protecting children, ensuring that agencies focus attention firmly on the child and their needs and ensure the right actions, by the right professionals, are taken to keep them safe and support them through to recovery.

“Earlier this year, following a supportive public consultation, I increased the police precept to fund future investment in Sussex Police so that they can effectively tackle serious sexual offending including child sexual exploitation. This extra funding will allow Sussex Police to bring the management and investigation of sexual offences and safeguarding of children and adults into a dedicated team that will have the capacity and specially trained officers to provide improved victim care.”

Superintendent Jason Tingley said: “The recruitment of a dedicated CSE analyst is a step forward to ensure that all multi agency intelligence and information can be assessed to better understand the scale of the issue across Sussex, better inform how we deliver services to victims of exploitation and also target the perpetrators responsible. This also has the full support of the three Local Child Safeguarding Boards in Sussex.”

Graham Bartlett, chair of the Brighton & Hove Local Child Safeguarding Board added: “We are delighted that this extra investment has been made to strengthen Sussex’s capability to tackle the horror that is CSE. By having a central point of analysis for all agencies the Local Child Safeguarding Boards of Sussex look forward to seeing children at risk being identified better, offenders disrupted earlier and prosecutions made stronger. No one agency can operate alone to protect young people at risk of CSE so I am delighted that, along with the See Me Hear Me project, we will see our co-ordinated approach strengthened by a more sophisticated understanding of the intelligence and information held across agencies. We know the damage these crimes do to young people, so it can only be good that we will now have a greater ability to protect young people from this appalling abuse and ensure those responsible face the justice they deserve.”

* Child sexual exploitation is a form of abuse which involves children, male and female, of different ethnic origins and of different ages, receiving something, usually food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gifts and/or money, in exchange for sexual activity. It can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example, being persuaded to post images on the internet or mobile phone without immediate payment or reward.