Children need our help more than ever to stop them being exploited
The forces Child Exploitation Team is supporting the worldwide Child Exploitation Awareness Day tomorrow (Friday 18 March) to increase understanding around the exploitation of children and the zero-tolerance of it.
Head of the Child Exploitation Team, Detective Inspector Gary Bee, has been an officer for over 27 years. He has worked in a variety of teams within the force and moved over to the exploitation team last summer after five years of working in intelligence.
The remit of his team is to provide support to children who are classed as being at risk of criminal sexual exploitation (CSE), focusing on those that are high risk and likely to suffer from significant harm.
Children are allocated a detective as well as a specialist social worker to work with them, ensuring their safeguarding needs are met. They also work together to identify perpetrators and bring them to justice.
The team works on a multi-agency model alongside partners including social care, health, the Youth Offending Service and other support agencies. The teams work to provide a joint approach by sharing information, resources and to provide support and advice to victims.
The team is jointly co-located with social care partners and it is this partnership that enables the wider team to efficiently safeguard children and disrupt and prosecute offenders.
DI Bee’s advice for parents and carers of young people is that, although mobile and smart phones have their place, they also help perpetrators find vulnerable young people to target.
He says: “There are a variety of parental restrictions and age appropriate content markers on the phones that should be enabled to help keep young people safe.
“It is really useful when adults have an understanding of the social media platforms their children use so they are better able to spot any unusual activity and to speak to them about their contacts to ensure they are genuine friends.
“If your child wants to have a difficult conversation with you about exploitation it’s important to remain calm and level headed and give them the time to tell you what’s on their mind.
“Mobile phones are part of young people’s lives these days and there’s no getting away from that, but when the children are using them consider encouraging them to do it in the same room as you so that they’re not using them in isolation in their bedrooms.”
DI Bee’s team, which is made up of detective sergeants, constables, support staff and social care partners, fully support Child Exploitation Awareness Day. They are keen to raise the profile of what child exploitation is in all of its forms and to continue to talk about these issues which can often be considered as taboo.
He adds: “They might be challenging conversations but they need to be had. We are keen to highlight more about crimes of these types and increase peoples understanding of this complex topic.”