Merseyside Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and our key partners are taking part in a day of action as part of National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day tomorrow, Saturday 18 March.
The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of CSE and gather information by working alongside colleagues from partner agencies including the PCC, Catch 22, Merseytravel, National Express, British Transport Police (BTP) and taxi licencing. They will be focussing on areas where young people congregate, including parks, fast-food restaurants, and train and bus stations.
Catch 22 is a young people’s charity which has been commissioned by the PCC to work with high schools and colleges across Merseyside on initiatives to promote CSE awareness and educational charity Ariel Trust has been funded to work with Year 6 children at various primary schools across the force area to deliver training on CSE.
The PCC has also funded a theatrical production entitled ‘On One Condition’ which explores the exploitation of young people, and has already been introduced to several high schools in Merseyside and been running during this week.
CSE posters and advice cards will also be distributed to young people and businesses during the day as officers and partners speak to people across the county.
Detective Chief Inspector John Middleton from the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “Everyone has a role to play in raising awareness of CSE and the work we will be carrying out tomorrow and beyond will encourage people to think, spot and speak out against abuse. CSE involves offenders grooming young people and using their power to sexually abuse them. This can take many forms, from a seemingly consensual relationship with an older partner, or young person having sex in return for gifts.
“Education plays a massive part in understanding CSE and we need to emphasise that not only is this behaviour unacceptable, it is criminal. Sometimes young people being abused do not realise they are at risk and will not ask for help. But with your understanding and information, we will continue to target, warn and bring offenders to justice.
“Throughout the day, we will be talking to members of our communities including those whose role brings them into regular contact with young people, such as shop workers, taxi drivers and hotel employees. There are warning signs everyone can look out for and take steps to help.”
Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Sue Murphy said: “National CSE Day is an important opportunity for us all to raise awareness of the damage that Child Sexual Exploitation causes and of the potential warning signs of this horrific crime so that everyone, particularly young people themselves, know what to look out for and how to keep themselves safe.
“We know that young victims may not recognise that they are being exploited and the term ‘CSE’ may mean nothing to them. Our Youth Advisory Group tell us that we need to talk louder, more openly, and more frankly about this topic with young people and that is what today’s event aims to do.
“It is a great example of how different agencies can work together to get young people thinking about how to protect themselves, while encouraging adults who work in key sectors to be vigilant, equipping them with the information they need if they spot the tell-tale warning signs.”