Police chiefs in South Yorkshire are to launch a major campaign to warn people of the signs of child sexual exploitation.
The new campaign, which goes live in December, is part of a major crackdown on the issue under way since it emerged police and council chiefs in Rotherham knew of sexual grooming for years but failed to take action.
A number of operations are under way into allegations of sexual exploitation and South Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Jo Byrne said the force is now ‘determined to do everything possible to protect children’.
“There can be few crimes that disgust, shock and appal us more than the exploitation of children for sexual purposes,” she said.
“In the last year, not least because of the publicity surrounding the Jimmy Savile case, there has been a greater public awareness of the dangers faced by children in society from those who would seek to exploit them and an expectation that the authorities will take firm action.
“It is important that the police service, local authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and others from the statutory and voluntary sector work in tandem to share information, to target those intent on such crimes and to make society far more aware of the dangers.
“But it’s vital that our communities play their part as well, understanding the signs of exploitation and coming forward with information to stop such offences.”
All 1,700 frontline officers in South Yorkshire have been trained in how to identify the warning signs of sexual exploitation.
Similar training for Police Community Support Officers and Special Constables is planned.
ACC Byrne added: “Child sexual exploitation is a national problem, not one solely confined to South Yorkshire, but it is one that we and all our partners are determined to tackle and eradicate as far as is possible.
“Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse where the victim is given something – food, money, drugs, alcohol, gifts – in exchange for sexual activity.
“Offenders target vulnerable young people and use their power – physical, financial, emotional – over the child to sexually abuse them.”
‘Violence, coercion and intimidation’ were common in the exploitation with vulnerable children unlikely to report abuse targeted.