Child sexual exploitation – our view
Friday 17 October 2014
West Midlands Police lead for public protection, Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes said: “Child sexual exploitation (CSE) remains at the top of our agenda and we are carrying out a huge amount of work to protect vulnerable children and bring offenders to justice.
“We recognise that this issue is very much a ‘hidden crime’ and we have, in challenging financial times where overall West Midlands Police officer numbers have dropped, invested a large amount of resources into public protection unit over the last 12 months.
“We have an extra 275 officers, which equates to 10 per cent of the force’s strength, bolstering existing resources. We now have local CSE co-ordinators across the force area and an enhanced central CSE investigation team, dedicated on line CSE team and more extensive child abuse investigation teams.
“The public protection unit is at the forefront of protecting vulnerable children across the force but we recognise that this is the responsibility of every police officer, staff, PCSO and special constable.
“A dedicated operation – Sentinel – was launched by the force last year to increase understanding, knowledge and reporting of hidden crimes such as CSE, child abuse, female genital mutilation and modern day slavery.
“Since this time extensive work has been done to train officers across the force in identifying and dealing with CSE so we can gain as much intelligence as possible and thereby improving the outcomes for victims.
“We know that CSE affects all communities whether this is people that are being abused by family members in their own home, online or they are being groomed away from their home. We cannot do this work alone which is why, just last week, we held a day together with our key partners to look at how we can best tackle this together.
“We also recognise the more regional aspect of CSE and the See Me Hear Me campaign launched in June this year and has seen all agencies responsible for tackling child sexual exploitation working to common standards of reporting and investigation.
“The lead officer concerned with child abuse nationally, Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey said yesterday in an interview with the Guardian that all agencies have a responsibility to detect signs of abuse and we continue to work with local authorities, schools, voluntary agencies to ensure we are working together to protect the vulnerable.
“He also talked about the bigger picture of abuse, that it’s not gangs that are the biggest problem when it comes to sexual abuse but rather abuse in the homes committed by people the victims already know.”