In order to raise awareness around the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE), March 18 has become the day organisations, government bodies and people around the world unite to try to tackle this issue.
The Metropolitan Police have already released stats on the extent of CSE which shows that this crime has shot up by 50% in London since 2014. In reality, what the stat may indicate is that the crime has become more visible since child protection went to the top of the government’s agenda 3 years ago.
Police forces around the country are also backing the Helping Hands campaign, which you can follow on Twitter with the hash tag #HelpingHands. More information on the day itself can be accessed on Twitter, too.
Whilst it’s all well and good everyone backing the idea of preventing child sexual abuse, rallying cries from leads in this area are falling flat, not least of all because police forces and the government have made it clear that the severe lack of resources to fund this kind of work means exploitation is still rife.
For us then, Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird’s words about the Helping Hands campaign, seem a little hollow:
“Doing all we can to keep the most vulnerable members of our communities safe is incredibly important to me and I give my full backing to this campaign.
There is lots of proactive work taking place to raise awareness of this issue and educate people about spotting the warning signs and I will ensure Northumbria Police continues to do all it can to tackle this completely unacceptable abuse.
Anyone who comes forward seeking help will be listened to and given the protection they need.
Absolutely no child or young person should be left to suffer in silence and our officers are committed to seeking justice for victims and put offenders before the courts.”
Nevertheless, an important day and if just one child is protected as a result of it, worth every tweet, post and news article.