Latest figures released
An assessment into the extent of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the West Midlands is published today to coincide with national CSE Awareness Day.
Led by regional strategic lead on preventing violence against vulnerable people, Stephen Rimmer, it sets out the latest understanding across the region of victims, offenders and locations, how the police, local authorities and partners are dealing with the issue and what happens next.
Stephen Rimmer said: “This assessment gives us a proper picture for the first time of the scale and nature of the CSE threat across the West Midlands. Since this snapshot we have put into practice common standards and a shared regional approach to coordinate our operational activity, we have launched an awareness raising campaign to inform young people, parents and communities and we have engaged directly with front line staff – teachers, GPs, taxi drivers and many others.
“This is to improve our support to children and young people at risk and to make life increasingly difficult for perpetrators of this crime – our number of investigations is growing as a result.
“If you’ve been abused or affected by exploitation, or are concerned for someone you know, there are a range of services you can contact – your local council Children’s Services, police, Barnardo’s as well as others on our website. I am clear that victims can now feel more confident than ever that they will get a proper and caring response from these services. CSE thrives in the dark and we are determined to expose it and tackle it wherever we find it”
This assessment showed that during the first 6 months of 2014, 488 young people throughout the West Midlands were sexually exploited or were at serious risk of sexual exploitation. The assessment sets out key features of this exploitation, the considerable work undertaken since then and the challenges ahead.
Commenting on behalf of the seven West Midlands local authorities, Solihull’s Chief Executive Nick Page, said: “Today’s assessment describing our collective work to tackle the perpetrators of Child Sexual Exploitation and protect children and young people is an important staging post. We have moved someway from having a collective will to now having some tangible evidence of our impact.
“However we cannot be complacent in any way. The perpetrators of this horrendous abuse are, whilst evil, very adept at disguising their activity. As the statutory agencies our duty, responsibility and purpose to protect children and young people is crystal clear. Working together with our communities and partners across the West Midlands has to be the way to go. So we can say today that some progress is being made, whilst being clear there is so much more we must do. ”
Detective Chief Superintendent Danny Long, West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit said: “Child sexual exploitation remains a top priority for West Midlands Police.
“Over the past 12 months our Public Protection Unit has been doubled in strength to some 800 officers and staff. This means around 10 per cent of the entire force are engaged in the fight and shows just how committed we are to tackling CSE.
“There is nothing more important than safeguarding children and our continuing work with all local authorities and other partner agencies strengthens everybody’s ability to stamp out the problem.”
Media Enquiries to: Janet Priestley Head of Press and PR, Birmingham City Council 0121 303 3531.
Spotting the signs
If you have any concerns about the safety of a child, or would like some advice, you can:
- Contact your local council Children’s Services department
- Contact Barnardo’s in the West Midlands on 0121 359 5333
- Contact the police on 101
- Children and young people can also ring Childline for free, confidential advice 0800 1111
Further sources of support are detailed here http://www.seeme-hearme.org.uk/help-advice-and-support/
If a child is in immediate danger, call 999.
There are many warning signs which could indicate there is something wrong, including:
- Sexual health and behaviour – including inappropriate sexualised behaviour
- Absent from school or repeatedly running away
- Familial abuse and/or problems at home
- Emotional and physical condition – thoughts of self-harming or low self-esteem
- Gangs, or older age group and involvement in crime
- Use of technology and sexual bullying
- Alcohol and drugs misuse
- Receipt of unexplained gifts or money
- Distrust of authority figures
- Entering or leaving vehicles
- Relationship of concern – having friends who are older