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Police and partners urge public to Tell Someone if you recognise a child or young person is being sexually exploited

West Mercia Police and partners are supporting the National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day on 18 March 2018 by running an awareness week across social media and conducting local activities designed to encourage participation in the campaign beginning on Monday 12 March 2018.

West Mercia Police and partners will be using the www.tell-someone.org campaign to raise awareness of the signs to look out for and urge people to come forward to report any concerns to police or partners.

Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Jones said "Local events and activities designed to encourage participation in the campaign will be taking place beginning on Monday 12 March 2018 to highlight the ongoing partnership work to tackle CSE across the West Mercia region. Follow #tellsomeone on twitter for details.

"We are also asking the public to please support the campaign by retweeting social media messages and taking time to recognise the signs of abuse by visiting www.tell-someone.org"

West Mercia Police and Commissioner John Campion said "I welcome this proactive approach, and the valuable work with partner agencies to tackle all forms of sexual exploitation against children and young people.

"This remains a top priority for me and the force, and the campaign is part of a much wider scope of work to ensure the full weight of the law is brought down on those who commit these horrendous crimes, ensuring that victims have the confidence to seek justice and to ensuring victims are put forward to get the help they need. I'd encourage people to back this campaign, and to make themselves aware of the key warning signs, as keeping people safe is the responsibility of all our communities."

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of child abuse. It happens when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something. The reward might be presents, money, alcohol, or simply just the promise of love and affection. The young person may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.

It might seem like a normal friendship or relationship at the beginning, but the young person might be persuaded to do sexual things they don't want to do in return for something.

Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact, it can also occur through the use of technology and without the child or young person's immediate knowledge.

Abusers can be very clever in the way they manipulate young people. That is why everyone can play a role in keeping children and young people safe.

Parents, carers, and other adults should look out for the warning signs and tell someone if they have any concerns.

Warning signs of grooming include unexplained gifts, unexplained changes in behaviour or personality, changes in physical appearance such as weight loss, being absent from school, staying out late, being secretive about where they are going, going missing, being overly familiar with friends that you don't know and a lack of interest in activities and hobbies. Visit www.tell-someone.org to learn more.

Trust your instinct, if you have concerns, tell someone, call police on 101 or contact a support agency. Details can be found on www.tell-someone.org

The following case studies can be found on the www.tell-someone.org website

Beth's story

Marcus' story

Published 12/03/18