A new campaign to prevent and tackle the exploitation of children has been launched by South Yorkshire Police.
In the campaign, launched this month, child exploitation is defined as a form of child abuse – in the scenario where youths are groomed by criminals, being given money, presents, drugs or alcohol.
The campaign also encourages people to look past the misconceptions of the “typical” victim or offenders of child exploitation – that both can be from any gender, race, and backgrounds.
Assistant Chief Constable for crime, Sarah Poolman, said: “I am incredibly proud to launch this campaign as part of our ongoing work to tackle child exploitation in South Yorkshire.
“These are complex crimes and cannot be tackled overnight, nor can they be addressed in isolation.
“We rely heavily on people coming forward and sharing concerns so our dedicated teams can act on reports. Every detail forms part of a bigger picture which enables us to identify patterns, perpetrators, and potential victims.”
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the early warning signs of different forms of child exploitation including child criminal exploitation (CCE), child sexual exploitation (CSE) and county lines drug dealing. It encourages people to recognise these signs, report concerns and access support.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a significant increase in online grooming, with criminals approaching children through social media or online gaming.
Assistant Chief Constable Poolman continued: “It’s important we reflect the changing tactics of abusers in relation to exploitation – we know that criminal exploitation is on the rise, and we are continually developing our intelligence to put a stop to the organised criminals behind it.
“Sexual exploitation continues to be an issue not only here, but across the country. It’s thanks to the help of two survivors of sexual exploitation in Rotherham that we’ve been able to develop this campaign and I can’t thank Sammy and Elizabeth enough for their invaluable input.”
The launch included a partnership event as police leaders emphasised the importance of a collaborative approach to tackling these crimes – with attendees from local authorities, social care, the NHS, and numerous charities in attendance.
More information about the campaign is available here: https://www.southyorks.police.uk/find-out/stop-exploitation/