Merseyside Police are showing their support as part of National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day this Monday, 18 March.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of CSE by gathering information, working alongside our partner agencies and talking to children and vulnerable people about standing up and speaking out against CSE.
So what’s going on and where?
Officers and staff will be working closely with partners to complete a number of activities to raise awareness of CSE including attending all police stations, youth services, schools, sexual health clinics, walk in centres and leisure centres in Knowsley to distribute educational posters. They’ll also be talking to staff and providing them with tips on how to spot the signs of CSE and where they can report this.
Staff have also undertaken a number of training courses delivered by the local authority, including modern slavery, mermaids, suicide and adolescent mental health training to help identify those at risk and educate staff how to better engage with children and vulnerable people.
On Tuesday 19th March, officers and staff from the local policing teams in Sefton are carrying out a day of action at St Michael’s Secondary School in Crosby. Here they’ll be accompanied by charity ‘Catch 22’ where they’ll deliver a series of CSE workshops where children can learn about supporting their friends, ways of reporting abuse and inappropriate relationships as well as speaking out against abuse.
Officers will be working with local authorities, Wirral Youth Outreach team and the Kontactabus, basing themselves in various areas around the borough speaking to young people and offering them support, help and advice.
A number of informative stalls will also be set up at Wirral Met College and The Hive in Birkenhead, where officers, social care and Catch 22 staff will be available to chat to students. Police will also be attending residential children’s care homes to provide internet safety tips.
A multi-agency taxi licencing operation has already been carried out to help raise awareness of CSE, whereby authorities have come together to encourage those driving young people around the city to remain vigilant and report their concerns.
This ongoing partnership will encourage those coming into contact with young people on a regular basis to be mindful of behavioural changes and introduces a wider safety network across the city in order to protect young people.
Officers and staff in St Helens are also heading out and about delivering posters and educational materials to public transport companies and hot spots including parks, leisure centres and cafes to raise awareness of CSE. This will aim to improve young people’s knowledge of the crime as well as the ability to spot potential threats to themselves and others.
Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs from the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “Sexual exploitation exists in lots of different forms and it is not always obvious to the victim when it first starts happening. It’s a dreadful crime which can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims and their families, which is exactly why having something like National CSE Day to highlight the issue is so important.
“We all have a duty of care to young people living, working and visiting Merseyside and we should all continue to try and help in any way we can to put a stop to the sexual exploitation of children.
“We must talk openly and encourage parents, grandparents, teachers, health professionals, social services and any other adults alike to take some time to better educate themselves about CSE and its devastating consequences. That way, each of us can spot the signs, protect young people and reduce the number of offences being committed.”
The public are encouraged to learn about CSE and follow the work being done on National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness day by using the following hashtags on social media #CSEDay19 #CE #CSE and #MerseysidePolice.