Sussex Police has today launched a new campaign to try and combat child sexual exploitation (CSE) following the first prosecution of its kind in the county (May 23).
Operation Kite aims to work with child support services and charities such as Catch 22, WISE and Barnardo’s to raise awareness of CSE and help members of the public detect the signs of child sexual abuse.
Officers fear 100 young people in Sussex are at risk of systematic sexual exploitation, based on data from police records of missing and found children and information from other agencies.
Police guidelines state young people, mainly teenage girls, may receive gifts, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and affection for engaging in sexual activity with individuals and groups.
In East Sussex in particular, Operation Kite is working with hotels and taxi firms to ensure they have the confidence to alert police to any suspicious circumstances.
At a briefing held at Sussex Police Headquarters in Lewes on Friday, May 23, temporary Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney said, “There is no current evidence that this pernicious activity, which corrupts the lives of vulnerable young people, is frequent in Sussex, but we believe there needs to be an extra focus on the issue to encourage reporting so that a fuller picture can be established and children better protected.
“We are already working with partners in local authorities and partners in other statutory and voluntary agencies, to develop a fuller picture of the way in which sexual exploitation can happen.
“And all police officers and staff, especially all those engaged on operations and intelligence, as well as our call handlers, are being specially briefed on the warning signs.”
See Tuesday’s Eastbourne Gazette for the full story.