The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is joining forces with partners across the city and counties to back the first national Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) awareness day.
Sir Clive Loader is joining up with the police, councils, the NHS and safeguarding boards across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to support the event, which takes place today (March 18) by making pledges underlining their commitment to tackling the issue.
CSE awareness day has been organised by national charity NWG for CSE and is building momentum by using the hashtag #HelpingHands.
The PCC, along with police officers and partners have taken part in a campaign by having their hands photographed with #HelpingHands. These will be published on social media.
Sir Clive said: “With the continual news coverage, CSE is at the forefront of everyone’s mind so it is great to see that on this national awareness day so many agencies are joining together to show their commitment to tackling this issue.
“As set out in the Police and Crime Plan, preventing and reducing child abuse and CSE is a key priority and is something that I am committed to supporting. It is so important that people have the confidence to report these horrific crimes, and for victims and witnesses to feel safe and supported throughout.”
Detective Inspector Rich Hiom from Leicestershire Police’s CSE team said: “Child sexual exploitation is rare, but it can have a significant impact on those it affects. It can affect young men and young women.
“Often the victims are not aware they are being exploited, until it is too late and might not report it for a variety of reasons. That means there is an extra need for those around them to spot the signs.
“As part of the ‘could you spot the signs?’ campaign we have handed out thousands of leaflets which outline what child sexual exploitation is, the tell-tale signs to look out for and where to find help or report concerns.
Paul Burnett, independent chair of Leicestershire and Rutland Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Put simply, the exploitation of children is an appalling crime which we will not tolerate. Rather than seeing CSE as taboo, we want people to think, spot and speak out and are united in supporting the NWG’s campaign. Our own ‘spot the signs’ drive is helping people to recognise CSE and report concerns and I hope that the awareness day increases awareness further.”
Two years ago, the safeguarding boards launched a hard-hitting campaign to raise awareness of the tell-tale signs of CSE, and where to report concerns. The wide-ranging drive – called ‘spot the signs’ - included a theatre tour which was seen by over 8,700 pupils. Feedback showed that 99 per cent felt it gave them a better understanding.
Last year, a second phase was launched targeting licensed premises including hotels, pubs and taxi drivers. A third phase is due to launch this spring.
Dr David Jones, independent chair of Leicester Local Safeguarding Children Board, said: “The reality of child sexual exploitation holds up a mirror to our contemporary approach to relationships. It is never right to bully, frighten or intimidate people and respect for each other is at the heart of our message. Whether you are out or surfing the net, don’t just walk by - spot the signs and make a difference.”
Materials for young people, parents and carers and businesses are available at:
www.lcitylscb.org for Leicester
www.lrsb.org.uk/cse for Leicestershire and Rutland
Posted on Monday 9th May 2016