North Yorkshire Police is urging professionals in roles who deal with children, and those in public facing roles such as taxi drivers, bar staff and hoteliers, to look out for signs of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
CSE is when children or teenagers are taken advantage of by adult criminals who have a sexual motive. This may involve grooming a young person, having inappropriate relationships or bribing them with cash or gifts in return for sexual contact.
Sometimes criminals target their victim in person, and in other cases, young people are targeted by a predator posing as a peer online.
Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, Head of Safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said:
“This type of child abuse is a real threat here in North Yorkshire and tackling this type of crime is a priority for the force – but we can’t do it alone. We need members of the public and people who work or interact with young people to report any suspicions they may have.
“Those individuals, who work in key public facing roles such as taxi drivers, hoteliers, bus drivers and bar staff, are the eyes and ears of our communities and we are appealing to them to look out for the signs of CSE.”
“Criminals prey on those who appear vulnerable and coerce them into committing crime or being sexually exploited. Young people can become vulnerable for many reasons. It could be for home and family reasons, mental health issues, bullying or peer pressure. In some cases, however, it is simply their age which makes them vulnerable.
“Criminals who target the young in this way are manipulative and often convince their victims that they truly care for them. This means that many victims of CSE do not self-report it, because often, a victim does not even realise they are being exploited or realise they are a victim.
“We need the public to help us identify those who may be at risk and report it to us – any bit of information might help. Please make sure you know how to spot the signs and contact police on 101”
“The signs are not always easy to spot, because often the child or young person does not think they are a victim, so they appear happy and carefree.
“My ask is that if you see something that doesn’t feel quite right then please contact the police. If it doesn’t look right or doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t right – please give us a call and we can investigate, making sure no-one is at risk of harm.
“The information you provide to us could stop a young person being harmed, or even save a young person’s life.”
Cllr Keith Myers, executive member for education, children and young people at City of York Council, said: “Helping to keep vulnerable young people safe in our communities is everyone’s business and we all need to play our part. I’d urge anyone who has concerns about an individual to contact 101”.
National guidance lists the following signs to look out for as;
- Young people meeting much older people in adult environments such as pubs and bars
- Young people who appear to be regularly heavily intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Young people checking into hotels with people they are not related to
- Physical signs such as bruising or evidence of self-harm
- Dressing inappropriately and inappropriate sexualised behaviour
- A young person staying out and travelling home very late at night on their own
- A young person who has a significantly older boyfriend / girlfriend / friend
**By “young person” in this context we mean a person 18 years or younger
For more information around CSE visit https://northyorkshire.police.uk/staying-safe/personal-safety/child-sexual-exploitation/
Last modified: February 28, 2019