Hundreds at risk of sexual abuse

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More than 500 cases of child sexual exploitation have been reported to Sheffield specialists in the past five years.

Almost half of the referrals – 213 – were received in the last year, a 150 per cent increase on 2012-2013, when there were just 85.

Sheffield Council, one of the agencies involved in tackling the issue, said every one would be investigated.

Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, said: “We will look into every referral, ensure the right services are in place, and do everything within our power to stop abuse from happening.”

The way cases are dealt with by the multi-agency specialist service in Sheffield has also changed, so low or medium-risk cases are now tackled by specialist community youth teams.

The figures show 52 victims have been deemed as being at high risk in the past year.

Officials say the rise in the figures, obtained by The Star under its Your Right to Know campaign, could be partly to do with increased public awareness following the Rotherham child sex exploitation scandal.

An independent review of the problem, published in August, found at least 1,400 children in Rotherham borough had been abused over a 16-year period.

However, Sheffield has been reassured it is not facing a similar scandal.

Bosses say teams in Sheffield are able to intervene at an earlier stage, sometimes before abuse has taken place, so they can prevent it from happening.

The service – which involves the council, South Yorkshire Police and other agencies – has dealt with cases in the city since 2001, It is based at Sheffield Futures, which works with young people.

The council has also urged people to report any signs of CSE or concerns for a young person’s safety.

It comes after a new report praised city agencies for their efforts in tackling grooming.

Training has been given to 1,700 staff who come into contact with young people, and work carried out with taxi firms and hotels.

The service has been told there are areas for improvement, including keeping records about the ethnicity of suspected abusers.

The breakdown of CSE cases recorded over five years includes 77 in 2009-10, 67 in 2010-11 and 76 in 2011-12.

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