Disrupting the activities of perpetrators who groom and sexually exploit young people was the focus of a regional event held in Dudley last week.
Professionals from 14 local authorities across the West Midlands along with the region’s police forces attended the event organised by the regional see me, hear me partnership on Friday (Nov 18).
They heard from speakers including West Midlands Police, Crown Prosecution Service and the National Crime Agency on the most up-to-date civil and criminal options available to disrupt and pursue offenders.
There was also the opportunity to share learning and experiences as well as the re-launch of a toolkit, providing options to consider in relation to disrupt and pursue activities.
Councillor Ian Cooper, cabinet member for children’s services in Dudley, said:
"Disrupting offenders is a key part of local work to tackle child sexual exploitation.
“Perpetrators are becoming increasingly sophisticated and often victims do not realise they are being groomed and abused.
“Working effectively together is vital and sharing information about CSE can identify networks or individuals who pose a risk to children and identify locations being used for sexual exploitation;
“Tackling CSE is a priority for all of us and we all have a key role to play in the disruption and pursuit of offenders.”
The event was aimed at social workers, police and local authority CSE leads.
Nick Page, chief executive of Solihull Council and regional lead for CSE added:
“Not only must we identify and safeguard victims but we must relentlessly pursue those who wish to cause harm, ensuring they are held to account and experience consequences for their actions.
“All agencies must work together to identify and disrupt the activities of those who commit this abuse.”
The regional CSE partnership website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk is a one-stop shop for information about CSE and how to spot the warning signs, along with help and advice for young people, parents and carers, professionals, businesses and schools.
Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Barnardo’s on 0121 3595333 or in an emergency call 999.
Childline also has counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk
People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting www.seeme-hearme.org.uk
Notes to editors
The campaign was launched in June 2014 by Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull councils, along with West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.
CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and involves perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online, to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them.
It can take place in many forms, whether through a seemingly consensual relationship, or a young person being forced to have sex in return for some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, gifts or even protection and affection.