Commissioner's Blog - Tackling Sexual Exploitation is the responsibility of us all
For some years now we have all been appalled by stories of young people, predominately teenage girls, being groomed and exploited for sexual purposes. When these incidents come to light the public quite rightly demand to know what the authorities knew, when they knew it, how they responded and what the outcomes were for helping those who have been exploited to safety and helped to recover, and how the law deals with the perpetrators of this vile abuse.
The grooming scandals in Rotherham, Rochdale and elsewhere over the last few years are well documented and we must never be complacent that ‘it doesn’t happen here’. A two-year investigation by Humberside Police into alleged child sexual exploitation has been extremely complex. Extensive enquiries have been carried out and every possible line of enquiry has been explored with multiple arrests taking place. However, there has not been sufficient evidence for all of the allegations put forward.
My role as Police and Crime Commissioner is to be the public representative on policing matters and I am receiving briefings from the force to enable me to understand the situation to date and how Humberside Police are continuing to investigate suspicions and allegations of abuse to protect our young people and convict those responsible.
The other aspect of my role is to commission various services to support victims of crime, including The Blue Door who provide dedicated workers who are specially trained to provide support if you’ve experienced rape or sexual violence and are under the age of 18. They offer practical help and guidance on issues such as:
- sexual health screening,
- reporting to the Police (should you wish to) and will support you through the criminal justice process if you wish.
These professionals are there to offer help every step of the way, ensure you understand everything that is happening and prevent risk of any future harm. Our services can also work with parents and carers of young people offering advice and guidance.
It’s important to understand that there IS help out there, ranging from support, advice and counselling, through to the specialist medical facilities needed to gather the physical evidence which can help secure a conviction against an offender. If you are a victim of sexual exploitation, or suspect that someone you know is being groomed or exploited in this way, contact the police immediately and you will be listened to and your information will be acted on.
It is vital that we, as a society, educate our children on how to spot the signs of possible exploitation. My office runs the Not In Our Community campaign, which over the last few years has engaged with thousands of young people through interactive educational resources and films highlighting the methods individuals and organised gangs use to groom our children into criminal or sexual exploitation. I would urge parents, teachers and carers to visit www.notinourcommunity.org to increase awareness of exploitation. The dangers are real and they can happen to any child from any background.
We have a responsibility to protect our young people and root out those who wish to exploit them and bring them to justice, but that responsibility does not lie with the police and other authorities alone. I am currently developing my Police and Crime Plan which will feature my plans to tackle violence against women and girls. I would welcome your views by completing a survey on my website which is open until 11th July.
We must all be vigilant and report suspicions to ensure there is no place in our communities for young people to be exploited and abused.
Notes: To access The Blue Door for advice and support for yourself or if you are concerned about someone else please contact 0800 197 4787 or visit www.thebluedoor.org/
To take my survey on Policing and community safety CLICK HERE
Posted on Wednesday 30th June 2021