Child Sexual Exploitation
Lancashire Constabulary is committed to prevent child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice.
The force is one of the leading constabularies in the country for its approach to tackling child sexual exploitation and has been held up as an example of best practice by the government.
What is child sexual exploitation?
Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley, head of public protection for Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Sexual exploitation is a form of abuse where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity. The abuser may groom the young person into trusting them – this can be done face-to-face or online – and they then exploit this trust for their own gain.
“Sometimes they may get the young person to engage in sexual activity by giving them attention, treats, alcohol, drugs or a place to stay; sometimes they may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and that they love them. Either way, the young person is being taken advantage of through this controlling behaviour; it is child abuse and the victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health.”
He added: “Child sexual exploitation can affect young people from all social and ethnic backgrounds and takes place in local communities all over the country. In the same way, offenders come from many different backgrounds - but they all have one thing in common. They are abusing young people and are using their status or position to exploit vulnerable victims.”
What signs are there that a child is being sexually exploited?
- Regularly going missing from home;
- Truancy from school;
- Friends with significantly older people;
- Being collected from home or school by people you don’t know;
- Unexplained injuries or bruising;
- Unexplained gifts or money;
- Secretive mobile phone use;
- Sexually transmitted infections;
- Associating with other young people who are vulnerable or are known to be involved in sexual exploitation.
What does Lancashire Constabulary do to tackle child sexual exploitation?
Each of Lancashire Constabulary’s geographical policing divisions has a dedicated team of officers and staff who work with colleagues in other agencies to help victims escape the cycle of abuse.
Det Supt Critchley said: “We share relevant information and coordinate the most appropriate response for each case. This helps us to identify and disrupt offenders and identify those who pose the greatest risk. It also means that a whole range of support for children, their families and others can be put in place where needed.
“The teams work closely with young people who are being exploited to firstly get them to recognise that they have been, or are being, exploited and to find ways of helping them to break free from the position they find themselves coerced into.
“We also deliver education packages in many schools across the county, highlighting dangers, warning signs and raising awareness amongst teenagers about sexual exploitation. Similar presentations have been delivered to parents and referrals have come as a direct result of this.”
How can I get help?
Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can contact police on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.
The geographical teams can be contacted on the following numbers / email addresses –
Operation Awaken (Blackpool and Fylde) : 01253 477 349 / email@example.com
Operation Breakthrough (Lancaster, Morecambe and Wyre) : 01524 596 764 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Operation Cherish (Chorley, South Ribble, West Lancs) : 01695 566 323 / email@example.com
Operation Deter (Preston) : 01772 209 122 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Operation Engage (Blackburn with Darewn, Hyndburn, Ribble Valley) : 01254 56145 / email@example.com
Operation Freedom (Burnley, Pendle, Rosendale) : 01706 237 397 / Pennine-OPFreedom@lancashire.pnn.police.uk