A NEW campaign aimed at stamping out child sexual exploitation has been launched by police working hand-in-glove with a range of agencies.
Durham Constabulary, NHS County Durham and Darlington, Durham County Council and Darlington Borough Council have joined forces to raise awareness of the signs to spot if a child is a victim of sexual exploitation.
The campaign called ERASE (Educate and Raise Awareness of Sexual Exploitation) aims to inform those who may come into contact with children about the indicators that might mean a child is at risk.
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It also gives people the contact details they need to share that information, whether it be about a child they feel is at risk or a suspect they feel may be of interest to police.
Helen Murphy, of the safeguarding unit at Durham Constabulary, who is the co-ordinator of the multi-agency group that is addressing issues relating to sexual violence, said: “We have seen serious cases elsewhere in the country and what we want to do is be proactive to raise awareness and make people aware about what sexual exploitation is.
“While County Durham and Darlington is a safe place to live for the vast majority of young people, we are committed to making sure that our eyes and ears on the ground –people who work with or come into contact with children daily – are fully aware of the signs to look out for.
Durham Police head of safeguarding, Chief Superintendent Paul Goundry, said the force had a team of experts dedicated to investigating online sexual crime such as the grooming of young people and the exchange of indecent images.
He said: “It is a hidden problem, but members of the community may have snippets of information which help us build up a richer picture to help us identify these perpetrators.
“For example of people see younger kids going into an adult’s flat. We need information like that.
“If we arrest one perpetrator, we will be saving numerous other people from becoming victims.”
For more details about the campaign, contact Helen Murphy on 101. Anyone with concerns that a young person is at risk should contact 999 in an emergency, and when it is not an immediate risk of harm, call 0845 850 5010 or for Darlington (01325) 346 867.
Anyone with concerns about a location, a vehicle or possible offenders email the police on firstname.lastname@example.org.