Praise for Lancashire's approach to tackling sexual exploitation

Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

LANCASHIRE Constabulary's approach to tackling child sexual exploitation has been highlighted as best practice in a national report published today. (Wednesday, June 29th 2011)

As part of the 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' thematic assessment published by CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) Lancashire Constabulary is described as 'outstanding' and 'innovative' in its approach.

The report says: "Lancashire Constabulary has taken a robust and proactive stance on child sexual exploitation which serves as an outstanding example for all police forces in the UK, demonstrating an innovative approach to gathering intelligence relating to child sexual exploitation and managing risks posed to vulnerable children and young people at a local level."

Lancashire Constabulary's Head of Public Protection Superintendent Ian Critchley, who is speaking at the launch of the assessment today, said: "I'm really pleased that we have been recognised in this report for the work that we do around child sexual exploitation. We are though not complacent and will continue to seek to develop our service to the public in this crucial area. We will continue to tackle this problem, with a priority being to protect and safeguard children from being exploited and abused.

"By having specialist multi-agency teams in place across the county and closely working with the Childrens Safeguarding Boards it means that a whole range of support for children, their families and others can be put in place where needed.

"This joined up approach also means we are better able to identify and disrupt offenders whilst identifying those who pose the greatest risk.

"We will continue to target, warn and prosecute offenders to hit home the message that this type of behaviour is not just unacceptable, it is criminal, and we will pursue those people involved and bring them to justice."

Last month the Constabulary hosted a conference aimed at raising awareness of the work being done across Lancashire to tackle child sexual exploitation whilst sharing best practice and promoting consistency amongst different agencies.

Over the past six years, Lancashire Constabulary has worked closely with many statutory and voluntary agencies to tackle the issue. A number of specialist multi agency teams are in place in each area of the county. These teams work closely with young people who are being exploited to find ways of helping them to break free from the situation.

Education packages have been delivered in many schools, highlighting dangers, warning signs and raising awareness amongst teenagers about sexual exploitation. Similar presentations have been delivered to parents and referrals have come as a direct result of this awareness raising.

Operation Freedom, the child sex exploitation initiative in Pennine Division, has recently won a National Award at the Ministry of Justice Local Government Achievement Awards - this being in the Best Achievement in Children's Services of the Year category.

Anybody who is concerned that a young person in their care is being sexually exploited should contact their local police or children's services department for help and support.

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