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A team of youth workers will be talking to people and organisations at venues across Coventry as part of a week long campaign to widen awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and to encourage people to spot, and where necessary report CSE (starting Monday 16 November).
Already, hundreds of taxi and private hire drivers and school staff have participated in training and the Council’s CSE team want to talk to more people about the issue.
The team, called ‘Horizon’, is made up of social workers, youth workers, children and families workers, a CSE co-ordinator and a specialist DC CSE police officer.
Cllr Ed Ruane, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at the Council, said that tackling child sexual exploitation is everyone’s responsibility and that although the issue was increasingly in the media spotlight more people should understand about how it can affect the communities.
He said: “CSE is such an important subject and can affect children from anywhere in the city. It is a crime that we want to combat in Coventry. The perpetrators will do all that they can to avoid detection and we all need to be vigilant.”
Sue Whitmore, Coventry’s CSE service manager, said that across Coventry it is important that children and young people are reassured that there are people and organisations able to help them.
She explained: “Strong leadership, clear accountability, engagement with victims and staff, and pursing and prosecuting the perpetrators of this crime is absolutely paramount.”
“We want to support other agencies in making it more difficult for children to be exploited; identifying offenders and stopping/disrupting their activities; and identifying and safeguarding children who are at risk.”
The Horizon team will be at locations including: City College, Foleshill Children’s Centre, Allens taxis, and Barrs Hill School.
To report any concerns, call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency or the Coventry Referral and Assessment Service on 024 7678 8555 or out of hours on 024 7683 2222.
Also, a new national helpline has recently been launched which allows people to call 24/7 free and anonymous by calling or texting 116 000.
The team work with other local authorities from the West Midlands districts that have joined together to set up a new website www.seeme-hearme.org.uk