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Commissioner Reassured That Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Continues to be a Top Priority

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion is reassured that tackling Child Sexual Exploitation continues to be a top priority for West Mercia Police.

The Commissioner said: “Any instance of the exploitation of young children is one too many and it is rightly concerning that this horrific crime is happening in our community.  Like the rest of the UK we do undoubtedly have young people being exploited in West Mercia, with Telford recently being under the national media spotlight.  With this in mind I wanted to provide some clarity and reassurance to our communities based on the evidence and insight I have seen as your Commissioner in the fight against this terrible crime.”

“I take my role exceptionally seriously and I am working hard to provide a strong voice for local communities, especially people within those communities who are struggling to be heard. On the specific issue of the exploitation of children, I am working with the Councils and other partners to make sure we understand the problem and ensure we are effectively working together to tackle it.”

“I don’t believe there has been any denial in West Mercia that this issue existed in our force area, like there was in Rotherham, nor any feeling that it had ‘gone away’.  In Telford, this issue was acknowledged some time ago by the likes of the police and the council. I am reassured that the police and partners have taken action and continue to do so. Suggestions that this subject is being ignored or ‘swept under the carpet’, are unfair and inaccurate. There is clearly more work to do because this abhorrent crime cannot ever be tolerated, but there is no complacency. I can say with confidence that this continues to be top priority for safeguarding partners in Telford, who collectively have made some notable progress, with more children protected and offenders brought to justice.”

“I have had a number of briefings from senior police officers about the exploitation of children in my first few months in office and I have asked for further ones in the coming days including a formal holding to account session with the Chief Constable. The force has a control strategy in place which focuses on bringing offenders to justice as well as preventing some of the vulnerabilities which can lead to young people being exploited.”

“I am reassured that this issue continues to be a top priority for the Police in Telford; I will ensure they have the resources they need; I will ensure they continue to work effectively with partners and I will ensure the force is regularly reviewing the effectiveness of its own work, involving external scrutiny where appropriate.”

“As Commissioner I will continue to improve the support we offer to children that have been exploited, to make sure we understand their needs and help them move forward with their lives.  We are never going to be able to undo the abuse they have suffered, but we can do more to understand their needs and support their recovery.

“Finally, I want to stress the importance of all of the public and voluntary organisations working together to tackle this issue. That means increasing community awareness, education and local partners working together. I have engaged with Cllr Shaun Davies the leader of Telford and Wrekin Council, local MPs and other community figures on this issue. I am grateful for their support and it is important that we don’t allow tribal politics to influence such an important subject. We all share common goals: We want to keep our vulnerable young people safe and ensure the full force of the law comes down on those who would threaten their safety. I will continue to work hard alongside our partners and communities to deliver that.”

Posted on Friday 16th September 2016

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