Hotline launched to help police fight child sexual exploitation in Essex
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A new hotline has been launched for people to raise concerns about child sexual exploitation to help police protect victims and bring offenders to justice.
Essex Police announced the launch of its hotline today with an appeal to the public to help in the fight against exploitation.
Det Supt Jason Hendy said: “We’re working hard to find and investigate these crimes, to help victims feel safer and to bring offenders to justice. As a parent, I need your help in that fight.
“I can only ask for your help if you know what to look out for. This is a complex area of crime and in some cases victims of child sexual exploitation may not even see themselves to be victims and believe that they are in control of the situation.”
The hotline, which gives people a chance to speak directly to officers about their concerns, is focussed on tackling exploitation in all its forms. It includes when young people are manipulated, forced or deceived into sexual activity for financial gain or to build status or control. The offences also involve young people being recruited or forced by gangs to take part in criminal activities, such as drug dealing or attacking people. Gangs often recruit children to “run” drugs.
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Police say exploitation can happen to any young person from any background and can have a “devastating” impact on victims and their families.
Det Supt Hendy added: “Anyone with a responsibility for care of young people needs to be aware of CSE and criminal exploitation and look out for the signs that it’s taking place. While communities rightly want action to tackle drug dealing and criminal activity, many of the children that may be involved in crime can also be victims themselves.”
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Warning signs of exploitation include children regularly going missing or coming home late, carrying money or goods with no explanation, hanging out with new people and acting secretively.
The hotline number, 01245 452058, is open Monday–Friday from 8am-4pm. Callers can leave a voicemail outside of these hours.
Officers will be on hand to offer advice and take reports that help investigate crimes.
In an emergency, always dial 999.