Protecting Our Children
By Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill
Dorset may be one of the safest places to live in the country but nowhere is unaffected by the real and constant threat of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Child sexual exploitation is a crime that can affect any child regardless of their social or ethnic background. Tackling CSE demands a joined up response from all agencies.
The Chief Constable and I have met several times to discuss the steps we are taking to protect children across Dorset. We know that communities are understandably worried about the threat posed by CSE and parents are concerned about their children’s safety online. Residents should be reassured by the Chief Constable’s letter to me which details the Force response to the recently announced recommendations from the ‘Independent Inquiry into CSE in Rotherham, 1997-2013’ and what the Force has and will be putting into place to tackle the threat to victims. I want to assure people across Dorset that the necessary work is being carried out to prevent CSE on an individual or organised basis.
We are investing more resources into CSE to pursue and prosecute those offenders who exploit vulnerable young people. With our partners we are working hard to identify those at risk of harm and work together to protect them. As well as informing young people on the signs of grooming, we want to build their trust so they feel confident in reporting abuse which can take many forms, such as the giving of gifts which can be misinterpreted as a symbol of genuine affection. Each type needs identifying and correct multi-agency procedures need to be adopted to prevent it. CSE is a toxic dangerous cancer that spreads throughout the fabric of society, and we must do all we can to stamp it out.
I promised to drive the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) agenda forward, and I have. It is important we share information to ensure a quick response to a child’s needs. This will result in earlier identification of vulnerable children and will improve communication between professionals from police, education, health and social care.
Neither I, the police or partners can ever promise to eradicate CSE, FGM or Slavery but what we can do is re-assure that we will be proactive, bold and determined to prevent any of these abhorrent crimes, and where they happen, prosecute them robustly.Children are our future and they deserve to grow up happy, in a safe environment. I pledge to do everything in my power to make that happen.