Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles today backed a new campaign urging local businesses to remain vigilant to signs of child sexual exploitation in Derbyshire.
The ‘Say Something If You See Something’ campaign is being spearheaded by Derbyshire County Council in partnership with the force, Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, ChildLine and child sexual exploitation support charity Safe and Sound and encourages businesses to act on their instincts if they see suspicious behaviour.
As part of the campaign, the council is writing to businesses in the hospitality industry including licensed premises, taxi firms and hotels to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and provide marketing resources including posters and leaflets to help staff spread the message.
Commenting on the campaign, Commissioner Charles said: “Child sexual exploitation isn’t a crime that happens in a far flung place with no relevance to Derbyshire, it is already happening here and it’s vital we take steps to protect these children and those at risk of abuse.
“Our biggest challenge is that we are dealing with a hidden, unreported crime as the vulnerable victims are often too frightened to report their experiences. For this reason we must rely on professionals and businesses which come into contact with victims through their work to raise the alarm and help us to safeguard them from future harm.
“I’m delighted I’m able to support this positive campaign which meets my key priority to safeguard children and young people. One of the best ways of addressing child sexual exploitation is to arm public-facing organisations with the knowledge they need to spot the signs and act on their instincts.”
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behaviour that suggests sexual exploitation, trafficking or another form of child abuse might be taking place should report their concerns to the police. Hotel staff, for instance, might become suspicious if there are a lot of male visitors to one room or evidence of parties, drugs and alcohol. Taxi drivers might notice regularly being asked to drop off young girls at particular hotels.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness that anti-social behaviour such as shoplifting, vandalism and underage drinking might also be a less obvious sign that youngsters are struggling with issues which could include sexual exploitation.
Dave Allen, cabinet member for Health and Communities, said: "Child sexual exploitation is a serious abuse and a crime which damages young people's lives and supporting this campaign is part of robust measures we're taking to tackle the problem.
"We're urging people working in areas where exploitation is known to take place to immediately report any concerns to us which they can do anonymously and in complete confidence."
Campaign messages are also being directed at the voluntary sector, charities, housing providers and faith groups along with agencies commissioned by the council to provide transport and other services for children and vulnerable young people.
Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 is defined as 'exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive something (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities'.
Anyone who has suspicions or concerns about child sexual exploitation should immediately call:
- Derbyshire police, tel: 101 (or 999 in an emergency)
- Call Derbyshire, tel: 01629 533190
- ChildLine, tel: 0800 1111 (25-hour helpline)
- Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board, tel: 01629 532181 (office hours)
- Safe and Sound, tel: 01332 362120 (office hours)
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Wednesday 23rd December 2015