Research has shown that on average it takes seven years for children to disclose sexual abuse as they either have no one they trust to turn to, no one who listens or no one who asks, say Lincolnshire Police.
Lincolnshire Police are today joining up with other Forces and the charity NWG Network to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and encourage people not to ignore the signs.
This will build on the work they already do with the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board and their other partners. who police work closely with throughout the year.
Superintendent Rick Hatton, Head of the Lincolnshire Police Public Protection Unit said: “The sexual exploitation of children is not only an issue for the Police, it’s a potential threat to every child so we all need to be aware of the signs. Everyone should also be prepared to act should they be presented with the signs. The average seven years that it takes a victim to disclose the abuse could be seven years of torment for that victim, and seven years where the offender continues to abuse them, and others.”
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said: “Sadly, not a day goes by without reports of child sexual exploitation. There is no doubt in my mind that it is one of the greatest evils of society. Every effort should be made to stamp it out, and every reasonable person should play their part in doing just that.”
NWG Network CEO Sheila Taylor said: “The first day of our two day conference will launch the National CSE Awareness Day which aims to highlight the issues surrounding sexual exploitation; encouraging everyone from all walks of life to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ to this abuse within our society. Together, we can work to inform, educate and prevent this form of child sexual abuse within the UK.”
Protecting victims of child sexual exploitation can be particularly difficult as many do not see themselves as victims. Others can be too scared to come forward because of the power their abusers exert over them.
National Policing Lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “When a child finds the courage to tell somebody they are being abused, that person, whoever they may be, must listen, must believe them and must take appropriate action. It is unacceptable that any child who confides in someone could be ignored.”
The Children’s Commissioner estimated that 16,500 children are at high risk of being exploited for sex across our towns and cities.
The police service has made radical changes in recent years in the way it handles and investigates child sexual exploitation.
CC Bailey said: “Police and our partners can’t rely on victims to come forward and report abuse, because many will slip through the net if we do. There’s a responsibility on everyone in society to do all they can to protect vulnerable people.
“Frontline officers are now being trained to spot warning signs of grooming and exploitation. They can identify those who are most vulnerable as a result of their living circumstances, or behaviour that indicates a child may already be a victim of abuse.”
“We must all work together and share information to ensure we have as complete an understanding as possible of those children who may be at risk. No matter who an offender is, whether they are working alone or with others and regardless of the community they belong to, we are resolute in our determination to identify them and bring them to justice.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Child sexual exploitation is a despicable crime which this Government is absolutely determined to eradicate.
“We have also given child sexual abuse the status of a national threat in the Strategic Policing Requirement so that this is prioritised by every police force”, he said.
“Government, local authorities, police, NGOs, children’s and health services must all work together to identify and eradicate this exploitation. That’s why we have also introduced measures to improve the early identification of victims and promote the sharing of information and best practice,”he added.
Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield said: “The exploitation of children for sex is a horrific crime which must be stopped and this is why I am a strong supporter of the National Awareness Day. Survivors and victims need to be provided with proper support to overcome their experiences; perpetrators need to be pursued and brought to justice; and professionals trained in identifying the signs.”
“As part of its inquiry into child sexual exploitation, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner developed and published the ‘See Me Hear Me’ framework which makes organisations working with children always focus on their needs when addressing exploitation”, she added.