Police and Crime Comissioner launches aid to combatting child sexual exploitation

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A toolkit to help tackle child sexual exploitation has been unveiled by Nest Lancashire and Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw.

Nest Lancashire and the commissioner’s office have been working with Lancashire Constabulary, teachers and professionals from across the county to develop the toolkit which will provide materials to explore different child sexual exploitation (CSE) topics as part of the curriculum or within their area of work.

The resources that make up the toolkit will help to raise awareness of the signs of grooming and potential abuse, enabling children and young people to understand the risks of activities they may be encouraged or pressured into doing.

Figures for CSE referrals in Lancashire have increased, with 1,814 in 2016/17 compared to 1,513 in 2014/15.

Speaking at a conference Mr Grunshaw said: “I set up Nest Lancashire to ensure children and young people across the county can access the support they need if they have been a victim of crime or are worried about what is happening to them. Specialist support for victims of child sexual exploitation is an important part of the service.

“In addition to this I am committed to protecting young people here in Lancashire to stop them from falling victim to grooming and exploitation in the first place.

“Over the past year my office has been working with schools and professionals from across the county to develop tools that will help educate local students and to prevent them from making dangerous choices.

“These resources will help young people to understand some of the risks they may be taking by sharing images, personal information or through peer pressure.

“Understanding these risks and looking out for each other will help our children to make the right choices and to stay safe.”

Tim Jacques, Assistant Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary, said: “I don’t want to see any child or young person become a victim of grooming or exploitation. Protecting the public, especially children, from harm and abuse is an absolute priority for Lancashire Constabulary and with our partners we will continue to proactively target those who seek to groom or exploit youngsters.

“It’s also really important that we help raise awareness among young people to allow them to learn about the risks they face and ultimately help them to make the right choices. This toolkit provides an excellent opportunity to help us achieve that. The more that we educate our young people on this subject, the more likely they are to keep themselves and their friends safe from grooming and behavior which is potentially predatory.”

Adrian Wright, NEST Children and Young People’s Service Coordinator for Lancashire said: “It’s very important that children have access to education on issues of crime and victimisation and this includes sexual exploitation. Educating children on appropriate relationships can reduce their risk of falling victim to sexual exploitation, and understanding that they may be at risk can help them in accessing support.

“It’s also important that professionals working with children, including teachers, have access to training to ensure they can identify young people that may be vulnerable and ensure they have the help they need.”

“The support from partner organisations and the interest in today’s event have been fantastic. I am happy to see the toolkit launched today and I am confident that it will make a real difference to the safety of young people in Lancashire.”

The resources in the Tackling CSE toolkit cover a wide range of topics including grooming, sexting, consent and healthy relationships.

Schools and other professionals working with children and young people can request access to the toolkit by visiting www.nestlancashire.org/toolkit.