Children’s services representatives from all 10 Greater Manchester local authorities and senior police officers will come together next Monday, 21 January, for a special meeting called by the Commissioner to address the issue.
It is hoped that as well as being an opportunity for agencies to share information about the work they are doing to combat child sexual exploitation (CSE), the summit will also lay the foundations for a coordinated, Greater Manchester-wide framework to address it.
Tony said: “Child sexual exploitation is a hugely complex issue which casts a dark shadow across Greater Manchester.
“But, complex or not, the bottom line is that no child should be the victim of this kind of horrific abuse, and all agencies that work with children have a responsibility to come together to root it out.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner, this is one of the most important issues I face. I want victims – and those at risk of abuse – to know they have somewhere to go where they will be listened to and believed. Most importantly of all, when a young person does come forward, action must be taken.
“This summit represents an important first step which I hope will ultimately lead to a coordinated, region-wide framework which draws in all the agencies, experts and communities of Greater Manchester to join forces to eradicate this stain on our society. I strongly believe we can only succeed by working together.”
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood added: “I have to say I am greatly heartened by that fact that Tony has immediately recognised the importance of this issue and placed CSE at the very top of his agenda.
“We have been saying for a long time now how we need to work much better with our partners to combat child sexual exploitation and today’s summit is a significant step towards that.
“This event is about ensuring the issue of child abuse is not just at the top of the police agenda, but at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“Greater Manchester Police already has a much better understanding of the signs to look for, plus there have been significant improvements around information sharing. Also, the widespread publicity surrounding recent cases has ensured that victims, witnesses, carers and the wider community are much more alive now to the threat of CSE.
“CSE is one of the force’s top priorities and we are absolutely committed to ensuring it gets the resources that it deserves. As a result we have put significant investment into both the PPD and our co-located multi-agency teams. We currently have around 400 officers working full-time as part of these teams, working in a number of areas including CSE and other sexual offences.”