A number of initiatives are being carried out in the Vale to tackle the ‘insidious crime’ of child sexual exploitation, a police chief has said.
Aylesbury officers have visited secondary schools seven times, giving information about child sexual exploitation to 1,200 students while the police have also funded children’s charity Barnardo’s to visit Aylesbury schools 30 times with the RU Safe presentation, seen by 4,642 students.
Barnardo’s has carried out 95 interviews with children from the Aylesbury area who have returned after going missing.
Police officers have also visited three local hotels and B&Bs to talk to staff about sexual exploitation, including how to spot it and what to do if hoteliers suspect CSE to be taking place in their premises.
Supt Olly Wright, local commander for Aylesbury, said: “Any child or young person may be at risk of sexual exploitation, regardless of their family background or other circumstances.
“We have done a lot of work, together with our partners, both at county and district level, to help prevent CSE by ensuring youngsters and the public also know the warning signs and how to stay safe.
“CSE is a force priority and every one of my officers has been trained to spot the warning signs.
“We’ve effective procedures in place to disrupt suspected CSE activity and take action should offences be committed.
“CSE is an insidious crime.
“It can be very difficult for those affected by CSE to recognise what has happened to them and to understand that they are not responsible.
We will listen, we will believe them and we will act.Olly Wright
“I want anyone who fears they may have been affected by CSE to know they can contact police with confidence.
“We will listen, we will believe them and we will act.
“There is further information about CSE, the warning signs the public can look out for and support services at the Thames Valley Police website.
“Anyone with concerns at all about offences relating to child sexual exploitation, especially if they are a victim or know someone who may be, should contact Thames Valley Police on the 24 hour non-emergency number 101.
“In an emergency always dial 999.”
Supt Wright was speaking after the publication of an independent serious case review into CSE in Oxfordshire.
The review was commissioned after the two-year Operation Bullfinch investigation by Thames Valley Police, which saw seven men sentenced to 95 years in prison for offences including rape, trafficking and arranging or facilitating prostitution against six girls.
It found that although many positive changes have been made by police since Operation Bullfinch, the exploitation could have been identified earlier and that errors were made.
The outgoing chief constable of Thames Valley Police Sara Thornton said: “We are ashamed of the shortcomings identified in this report and we are determined to do all we can to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”