Greater Manchester is taking a stand against child sexual exploitation with a groundbreaking new campaign.
Greater Manchester Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, health organisations, the ten local authorities and the voluntary sector are working together to target perpetrators and to educate young people and their carers on the warning signs of child sexual exploitation and how to get help.
Today (Friday 19 September), a new website has been launched – www.itsnotokay.co.uk – which contains information for children, young people, parents, carers and professionals on how to spot the signs of child sex exploitation and what to do about it.
The launch of the It’s Not Okay campaign follows a week of action across Greater Manchester to tackle child sex exploitation; a week which consisted of education and empowerment of young people, but also the detection and disruption of CSE-related activity, which saw three warrants executed and 19 arrests made across the seven days.
High visibility patrols have taken place in Manchester City Centre and surrounding areas, with over two thousand children spoken to by specially trained officers. During these approaches the young people were advised about CSE and keeping themselves safe. Those who were identified as being vulnerable were taken to their home or a place of safety.
The rest of the week saw a number of inputs with professionals in the hospitality sector and other industries, as well as multi-agency visits to ‘premises of interest’ across Greater Manchester such as pubs, off licenses and takeaways.
A series of school visits and educational lessons have also taken place, with a mixture of officer inputs and a viewing of award-winning and thought-provoking CSE production ‘Somebody’s Sister, Somebody’s Daughter’ by GW Theatre.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd is also writing to every high school and college in Greater Manchester to make them aware of the campaign and urge them to act if they are worried about a young person.
Mr Lloyd said:
“Child sexual exploitation is a scourge on our communities and we all have a responsibility to protect our children and young people. Despite the recent media coverage around this issue it is still a hidden problem and it’s common sense for all agencies to work together with communities to eradicate it.
“By raising awareness and educating people about the warning signs of child sex exploitation we can encourage people to speak out and all play a part in keeping our children safe.” Tony Lloyd
Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said:
“Tackling the sexual exploitation of children and young people is an absolute priority for Greater Manchester Police and its partners. Protecting children is everyone’s responsibility and it is crucial that we work together to identify and prosecute individuals who prey on vulnerable children.
“Historically mistakes have been made; however, we are more determined than ever to get it right. It is crucial that the children of Greater Manchester understand what child sexual exploitation is, to recognise when this happening to them, and that it is NOT okay. We want children to know that they will be believed and that we will do everything in our power to protect and help them.
“I want to reassure our communities that we have, and will continue to hunt out offenders who prey on some of the most vulnerable in our society and urge anyone with any information or concerns to come to us – we will take action.”
Mike Livingstone, Chair of Manchester Safeguarding Partnership, said:
“This is a massively important issue and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it. Child sexual exploitation is child abuse and it ruins lives.
“Children at risk don’t recognise local authority boundaries and abusers often deliberately manipulate these – so it’s vital that we work together across local authority areas to tackle it.
“Through Project Phoenix we’re determined to do everything we can at a regional level to educate, prevent, and ultimately protect young people from this most serious form of child abuse.”
Gary Murray, Crimestoppers North West Regional Manager, said:
“The independent charity Crimestoppers are delighted to support this campaign. Each year we receive over 2,000 pieces of information with regard to sexual offences and we would encourage anyone with information to contact the charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
For more information on child sexual exploitation and who to contact if you have any concerns that a young person you know may be a victim of child sexual exploitation visit www.itsnotokay.co.uk.
You can also report it to Greater Manchester Police by calling 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If someone is in immediate danger, dial 999.