Four specialist charity workers are to help youngsters in South Yorkshire escape child sexual exploitation.
The quartet, from children’s charity Barnardo’s, joined South Yorkshire Police for the launch of a new service on Monday.
They will work directly with boys and girls, helping them to escape sexual exploitation and also raise awareness of the problem by going into schools or meeting with community groups.
Steve Oversby, Barnardo’s Yorkshire director, said: “Child sexual exploitation devastates lives.
“It’s vital we do all we can to ensure victims are identified and given the help they need to move on from the abuse they have suffered.
“We know sexual exploitation is going on in every town and city in the UK and child victims continue to go unidentified as tell-tale signs are overlooked due to a lack of awareness.
“We’re determined, along with our partners in South Yorkshire, to tackle this horrific crime and help those who have been affected to rebuild their lives.”
The funding for the four workers in South Yorkshire, in a service called Barnado’s Satellite, is expected to continue for at least a year.
South Yorkshire Police said they would work with existing child sexual exploitation teams in the force.
Temporary Detective Superintendent Phil Etheridge, lead officer for investigating and preventing child sexual exploitation, said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation cannot be achieved by one agency alone.
“If we are to prevent such terrible crimes happening and investigate those who commit such offences, we need the support of partner agencies.”