Police place huge focus on tackling child exploitation

Norman Baker speaks at the launch of Operation Kite. SUS-140529-115823001
Norman Baker speaks at the launch of Operation Kite. SUS-140529-115823001

A new focus will be placed on tackling child sexual exploitation after Sussex witnessed the first prosecution of its kind earlier this month.

Sussex Police launched Operation Kite at its headquarters in Lewes last week after six men were charged with conspiring to arrange the prostitution of a child.

The campaign is the result of almost a year’s worth of work across the county and aims to raise awareness of what child sexual exploitation is and what to do if you suspect it’s taking place in your area.

DCI Jason Tingley, who works for the East Sussex Division of public protection, said, “Operation Kite talks about awareness, support and guidance for front-line child services, increasing information and intelligence.

“It’s taken nearly a year to get to this point and a massive amount of resource - that shows how much we’re putting into this. Managing offenders takes a great deal of tenacity and experience.

“We hope Operation Kite will give victims the confidence to come forward. In East Sussex, we’re working closely with hotels and taxi ranks to make sure people call us when something doesn’t look right, such as a young person checking into a hotel room by themselves.”

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.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said, “I want all victims and all those at risk to know that they have somewhere to go, someone who will listen and someone who will believe them. When a young person does come forward, swift action will be taken. I sincerely hope Operation Kite will increase the public’s confidence to report these offences.”

For further information on child sexual exploitation, visit www.sussex.police.uk.