CSE Awareness Day is a national campaign held annually on 18 March which aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE - encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.
Chief Constable Darren Martland will be one of many writing a message of support on his hand – making a powerful statement of his commitment to protect vulnerable children from being exploited in Cheshire. He will also be joined in his pledge by officers and staff across the organisation.
Cheshire Constabulary works hard all year round to protect children and to ensure the appropriate advice, support and safeguarding is in place for them. Specialist CSE teams are embedded within each local policing unit supporting young people, targeting offenders, and delivering bespoke training to all local officers – making sure they are aware of the signs to look out for.
Head of Public Protection for Cheshire police, Detective Chief Superintendent Denise Worth said: “Cheshire Constabulary has a fundamental duty to protect those who are most vulnerable within our communities. This national campaign provides us with a crucial opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers, the signs and the indicators of abuse so that we can effectively safeguard our children and bring to justice those who exploit them.
“Protecting children and ensuring that victims are at the heart of everything we do is a top priority for us and we work closely with our partners to protect our young people and make Cheshire safer.
“But we cannot do this without the support of our communities. We urge you to know and see the signs of CSE and be a voice for those who may not be able to speak up for themselves. Local communities can help play their part and look out for their neighbours by knowing how to spot if someone is being coerced, exploited or taken advantage of.
“It is important to remember there is never one type of victim or offender and that child sexual exploitation can happen to anyone. The impact this type of crime can have on a child is absolutely devastating and can have a long lasting and significant effect on all those involved.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, David Keane, said: “Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime and safeguarding the vulnerable and supporting victims is one of my key priorities.
“CSE can occur in everyday situations so it is important that everyone looks out for the signs and uses their voice to speak up for those who can’t. Anyone with any suspicion needs to report it to Cheshire police.
“We need to work together to protect children throughout Cheshire from harm and I am committed to doing everything I can to work with Cheshire Constabulary and partner agencies to raise awareness of the dangers of CSE and other forms of sexual abuse.”
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity in exchange for things such as money, gifts, accommodation, affection or status. The manipulation or 'grooming' process involves befriending children, gaining their trust, and often supplying them with drugs and alcohol, sometimes over a long period of time.
What are the signs?
• Unexplained injuries e.g. bruising
• Regularly using drugs or drinking alcohol
• Mood swings, aggression towards others
• Truancy or a drop in performance at school
• Self-harm – e.g. cutting or eating disorders
• Change in appearance, or borrowing clothes from others
• Always tired
• Unexplained relationships with older people
• Staying out late, not returning home
• They have unexplained gifts, expensive clothes, mobile phones
• Unexplained money, frequently taking part in activities requiring money
• Unknown vehicles dropping them off or picking them up
• Unknown friends on their social media sites
• Secretive phone calls and internet use
If you suspect someone is carrying out CSE, that someone is being exploited, or that you have been a victim yourself, please report it to any of the authorities or the police on 101. In an emergency, dial 999.
For more information about the signs of child exploitation and for help and support, visit www.knowandsee.co.uk