The force’s CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) hub is supporting National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day to increase awareness around CSE and the dangers its poses to young people.
Today (Monday 18 March) is National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day which aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE across the country by encouraging people to ensure they think, spot and speak out against abuse.
In 2014, Leicestershire formed the Multi-agency CSE (MA-CSE) team to tackle the ongoing issue with CSE. It consists of representatives from police, social care, health and other support workers, all based together at Wigston Police Station.
The team is able to use their individual specialist expertise in identifying CSE and work jointly together by sharing information and resources to prevent and disrupt CSE, provide support to victims and advice on how to stay safe both on and off-line.
As part of National Awareness Day, team members are being encouraged to wear red for the day this year and once again, to write a personal pledge on their hands to show support for the ‘Helping Hands’ campaign and to share their photos through social media.
Detective Inspector Jenni Heggs, who leads the multi-agency CSE hub in Wigston, said: “Children are continuing to be groomed and exploited in many different ways and CSE sadly is a crime on the rise which is why we recognised the benefit of a multi-agency approach to tackle it.
The team work extremely hard and constantly review their approach to best share the messages around CSE and ensure the public know how to report such incidents.”
Donna Smalley, the Children’s Social Care Service Manager at the team, said: “We have carried out a number of campaigns around CSE targeting the leisure industry , hotels and taxi’s and private hire cars across Leicester,
Leicestershire and Rutland to recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation and help keep children and young people safe.
“Work is constantly ongoing within schools, through workshops and through the creation of the short films Kayleigh’s Love Story and Breck’s Last Game to educate children around CSE and grow that awareness so that young people have more confidence to come forward to report incidents of this nature.
“However this is not something that we can eradicate alone, and there is so much the public can do to help by spotting the signs and supporting by speaking out to stop it.”
DI Heggs added: “CSE remains a priority for the force and we hope that events such as National Awareness Day keep CSE in the public domain and give a reminder that this is something that young people are still suffering from and that we remain committed to tackling it and bringing responsible to justice.”
Advice around CSE and what the signs are can be found at https://leics.police.uk/categories/child-sexual-exploitation-cse or http://www.stop-cse.org/national-child-exploitation-awareness-day/raise-awareness/