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Leading the fight against child sexual exploitation

A pioneering campaign aimed at tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) has today been launched in Waltham Forest.


Working in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service (Met) and Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board (WFSCB), Waltham Forest Council has become the first London borough to embark on an extensive CSE campaign which will raise awareness about the issue with residents and local businesses.


It aims to put the issue of CSE at the forefront of people’s minds so they feel empowered to raise the alarm if they see anything untoward.


This morning, senior police officers from the Met gathered alongside health professionals and Council representatives to unveil the campaign to professionals from various borough-based businesses.


The event, at Leyton Orient Football Club, saw guests sign a pledge of commitment to the zero tolerance of CSE. It also featured presentations from Borough Commander for Waltham Forest, Chief Superintendent Mark Collins, Fran Person, WFSCB Independent Chair, the Council’s Chief Executive, Martin Esom, its Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Cohesion, Cllr Liaquat Ali MBE JP, and its Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Cllr Mark Rusling.


Cllr Rusling said: “Looking after our young people is of the utmost importance and this campaign demonstrates our commitment to working with police and the local safeguarding children board to tackle CSE.


“We want to make sure that we reach as many residents and businesses as possible with this campaign so that, if they do ever suspect CSE is taking place or experience it in some way, they know what to do.”


Detective Superintendent Terry Sharpe, Exploitation and Child Abuse Investigation Command said: “Child sexual exploitation is a hidden crime with thousands of children and young people at risk across the country.


“The London Child Sexual Exploitation Operating Protocol was launched in February 2014. Waltham Forest Borough fully embraced this and has led the way in providing a clear direction for all agencies, demonstrating that effective collaborative working will help to identify and safeguard children and young people who are at risk of CSE.


“The intention of today's launch is to raise awareness within the private sector of the CSE warning signs and to encourage reporting this to the police if CSE is suspected.”


Cllr Ali MBE JP said: “We are calling on the Waltham Forest community to help put a stop to CSE by supporting this campaign.


“Child sexual exploitation isn’t always easy to spot but if anyone comes across a situation that looks or feels suspicious, it’s vitally important that they know not to ignore it but to report it to police.”


Chief Executive of Waltham Forest Council, Martin Esom, said: “By continuing to work in partnership with other organisations, we are establishing Waltham Forest as one of the most proactive local authorities when it comes to tackling CSE and empowering people to report anything untoward.


“From our CSE conference in June to this new joint campaign, we are absolutely committed to doing as much as possible to help protect our children and young people.”


As part of the council’s CSE campaign, businesses that sign the pledge will receive a resource pack which aims to better inform them about CSE. These businesses will also take part in a bespoke training session to help them understand CSE in the context of their business and encourage their staff to report anything suspicious to the police – and understand the consequences of not doing so.


National research – such as the Office of the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups – indicates there are particular types of business that are more likely to unknowingly aid CSE perpetrators, such as hotels, B&Bs, licenced premises serving alcohol, cafés and taxi companies. Therefore, this campaign will endeavour to specifically target these businesses.


It also aims to reach residents who could be affected by CSE, including young people, parents/carers and professionals, to educate them about CSE and signpost them to services that can help should they need further support. In addition, the campaign will also build on existing staff training to ensure enforcement officers in licensing and environmental services are fully aware of the signs and indicators of CSE in the context of their roles.


Intense training, led by the Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board with other partners, means council officers and staff are better equipped to recognise the signs of CSE and make a referral where they have any suspicions. With the second highest rate of referrals in London, this training is working since child sexual exploitation is usually a very hidden and sensitive topic where suspicions go unreported and offenders go unpunished.


If anyone ever suspects CSE is taking place they can report it to police by phoning 101 and referencing ‘Operation Make Safe’. If you believe you are the victim of CSE or if you are a young person in any way affected by it you can either report it to police on 101 or call Childline for advice on 0800 1111.


For more information about the CSE campaign, and to find out how you can support it, visit www.walthamforest.gov.uk/cse.




Notes to editors

Waltham Forest’s Safeguarding Children Board is the statutory body responsible for coordinating policy and practice for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in the borough. It works with all agencies responsible for providing services to children and young people up to the age of 18.

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