Mark Burns-Williamson opens conference in Halifax to tackle child sexual exploitation

Mark Burns-Williamson.
Mark Burns-Williamson.

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson, has highlighted the work he has done in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation on National CSE Awareness day.

Mr Burns-Williamson was at the Shay stadium in Halifax today to open the conference being held by Crimestoppers to launch their new awareness campaign to highlight the issue of On Street child sexual exploitation (CSE).

The charity said that all children can be vulnerable to this type of abuse, which starts when victims are met and groomed in public places.

Many victims won’t realise what is happening and offenders can easily hide in plain sight.

Now the charity and West Yorkshire Police are hoping to tackle the issue by working with professionals in the region who may have contact with potential perpetrators and those who have contact with children.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This conference is an important event in our continued fight to prevent the abuse of children from Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and how we can better work together to identify and bring to justice those who perpetrate this devastating crime and in so doing make our communities safer and feel safer.

“Tackling CSE has always been one of my top priorities as well as other safeguarding activity set out within my Police and Crime Plan, which is why I have previously brought partners together to focus and co-ordinate work on CSE and have made an extra £3.5m available to the police for increased capacity to deal with CSE, human trafficking and cyber-crime.

“Through a number of events I have held, I consulted with the communities and partners of West Yorkshire and agreed with the five Directors of Children Services a 2 year £440,000 project focused on CSE.

“This includes engagement in a schools programme to raise awareness in all five districts, raising awareness is key to prevention and protection and today is another initiative to do just that.

“This abuse has a devastating effect on victims, their families and communities.

“Earlier this week I attended a launch of “Parents Speak Out” organised by PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) at Westminster and to hear the harrowing experiences of parents of the victims of CSE really brings home that breadth and scale of that devastating effect.

“It is vital we all build stronger or new partnerships, because working together sharing our knowledge and experience is vital in preventing harm to children and young persons.

“I want victims and witnesses, in particular those who are most vulnerable, to always come first and any young person who has been a victim or a witness of this sexual exploitation should have the confidence to come forward, trust that their voice will be heard and be justified in believing that the responsible authorities will make sure they and others are supported and kept safe.”