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Too close for comfort... Tackling sexual exploitation in Herefordshire

Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) is bringing together 240 frontline professionals this week to share plans about combatting the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young people.  The event takes place this Tuesday (25 June 2013) at The Freedom Centre, Coningsby Street from 9am to 12.30pm.  A repeat event is being held from 12:30 to 5pm.

Teachers, police officers and police community support officers, social workers, school nurses, foster carers and community volunteers will be among the delegates representing 75 organisations that work with children and young people in Herefordshire.  Input from Barnardo’s SERAF Service (Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework) will highlight the risk factors and signs and indicators for recognising sexual exploitation in children and young people and West Mercia Police will share intelligence from their recent experiences with Operation Chalice, West Mercia Police’s large scale investigation into child exploitation in Telford.

Child sexual exploitation and trafficking are forms of child abuse. They can be complex and manifest themselves in different ways. In all cases, those exploiting or trafficking the child or young person have power over them, perhaps by virtue of their age or physical strength.
Exploitative or trafficked relationships are characterised, in the main, by the child’s limited availability of choice, compounding their vulnerability. This inequality can take many forms but the most obvious include fear, deception, coercion and violence. The consequent imbalance of power perpetuates the abuse and undermines the will of the victim to the extent that they feel unable to remove themselves from the position they are in

David McCallum, chair of Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We want to make sure that people who work with children and young people in Herefordshire understand that sexual exploitation is an issue currently affecting young people in our county.  It is important they are able to read the signs and identify children and young people at higher levels of risk so that we can take action to safeguard them. 

“Our awareness day is designed to equip attendees to return to their work places where they can be ‘champions’ for awareness raising.”