Independent charity Crimestoppers is working with West Yorkshire Police to highlight the issue of On Street child sexual exploitation (CSE).
All children can be vulnerable to this type of abuse, which starts when victims are met and groomed in public places.
Many victims don’t realise what is happening and offenders can easily hide in plain sight.
Now the charity and police want 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.
They will be marking National CSE Day today (March 18) with a conference in Halifax. The event will provide the opportunity for professionals to hear from expert speakers to better understand offender behaviours as well as the signs to look out for in their day-to-day working.
Gemma Wilson, regional manager for Crimestoppers in Yorkshire, said: “Any child can be at risk of On Street exploitation and we want those professionals who have contact with potential perpetrators or children to be able to recognise the signs.
“By raising awareness in this way hope that more will have the confidence to speak up if they see something wrong and really help to disrupt this awful crime.”
Those who have information on child sexual exploitation can contact West Yorkshire Police on 101.
Alternatively, for those who wish to remain anonymous, information can be given to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the charity’s anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Detective Superintendent Darren Minton, from West Yorkshire Police’s Central Governance Unit, said: “Safeguarding the vulnerable is at the heart of everything we do.
“It is vitally important that, as part of tackling this issue in our communities, we make sure that professionals coming in to contact with those who may be or could become a perpetrator of this abhorrent crime are aware of their potential behaviour, and the steps to be taken.
“Events such as the conference highlight our continued commitment to working with our partners, who form part of our multi-agency approach in supporting victims, or those who are potentially vulnerable.
“Understanding the types of offending and how this can be intercepted is vital in enabling us to detect and tackle these potential offenders.”