The Children’s Society is at last ready to take over responsibility for services to combat child sexual exploitation in Calderdale.
It is exactly three years since councillors were asked to make the issue a priority and advised to seek outside help.
More than 130 children and young people in Calderdale have been sexually exploited in the past five years, according to the latest figures.
Most of the victims were girls and it was men aged 20 to 30 who were the main perpetrators but three females have also been identified as having an involvement in Calderdale cases from 2006-10.
In September 2009, Calderdale Council’s then head of commissioning and partnership services, Sue Rumbold, warned that specialist intervention help was vital to deal with concerns that some children are being sexually exploited by their parents or family members.
The aim was to safeguard vulnerable youngsters while at the same time prevent them having to be taken into local authority care.
“This service has been 18 months in the planning and we hope it will be ready to begin work in April 2010,” she said.
The council’s children and young people’s panel was told last night that it has taken until now to finalise a £97,000 a year contract with The Children’s Society, which is due to commence on September 1.
According to the council, victims come from a range of backgrounds, age and gender - often they are groomed over a long period and once enticed into sexual exploitation find it difficult to escape.
Substance misuse is a regular feature in child exploitation, some victims go missing from home or have unauthorised absence from school and they often come to the notice of social workers, health workers, youth workers, youth offending teams and the police.
The council has recruited Barnardo’s to interview missing children who return home.