Almost 1,500 cases of suspected child sexual exploitation were referred to Lancashire Police in a 12-month period.
Figures show there were 1,494 child sexual exploitation (CSE) referrals in Lancashire from April 2011 to March 2012, the vast majority of which, 90%, were female.
The total includes 188 referrals in Preston, 183 female and five male, 131 in Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre, 112 female and 19 male, and 192 in Chorley, South Ribble and West Lancashire, 168 female and 24 male.
Lancashire Police is launching a week-long campaign from September 17 to 21 to raise awareness of the problem.
It is one of the leading police forces in the country for its approach to tackling CSE and has been held up as an example of best practice by the Government.
It wants to highlight the work officers are doing and to increase people’s understanding of the issue so that everybody can help prevent child abuse, aid victims and bring offenders to justice.
Det Supt Ian Critchley, head of public protection for Lancashire Police, said: “Sexual exploitation is a form of abuse where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity.
“The abuser may groom the young person into trusting them - this can be done face-to-face or online - and they then exploit this trust for their own gain.
“Sometimes they may get the young person to engage in sexual activity by giving them attention, treats, alcohol, drugs or a place to stay. Sometimes they may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and they love them.
“Either way, the young person is being taken advantage of through this controlling behaviour, it is child abuse and the victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health.”
More than 90% of the referrals involved white British children.
Almost 85% lived at their family home, around 10% lived in children’s homes and 2.5% lived with foster parents.
Lancashire Police identified 645 suspects or offenders, with the majority, 96%, male.
Of this number 77% were classed as white British, 9% Asian Pakistani and 2.6% Asian Indian.
The force will hold events across the county during the campaign and use Twitter to share insights from CSE teams.
You can follow updates @LancsPolice #keepkidssafe.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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