Working together to protect children
11:00am Thursday 15th August 2013 in Latest News
Cases of possible child sex exploitation in Wiltshire are being monitored ‘closely’ by police as a new cross-agency unit is formed to help tackle the growing problem.
Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Pat Geenty has said detectives have been put on alert for signs of child sex abuse following recent highly-publicised cases of paedophile rings in Oxford, Rochdale and Derby.
The force is helping form a new multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) with Swindon and Wiltshire councils, health authorities and experts at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre to pro-actively tackle online grooming and sexual abuse of young children by predatory gangs.
In his Force Delivery Plan – a vision of how he will deliver on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s objectives – Mr Geenty made protecting vulnerable people and safeguarding children a top priority. The Association of Chief Police Officers has recommended all forces design action plans.
He said: “I cannot go into specifics but there are child sex exploitation cases we are looking at very closely in Swindon and Wiltshire.
“Everywhere has a problem and I don’t think we are any different from any other force. We are putting together a child sex exploitation action plan, which means we are going to look at information available to make sure we can protect children who are identified as vulnerable.
“We need to learn the lessons from those other cases and the first one of those lessons is to understand what child sex exploitation is all about and how it works, and information we have to identify those people, those youngsters we think may be at risk and work hard to prevent it from happening.”
Mr Geenty said the MASH is set for its first meeting at the end of this year and the aim is to prevent any one agency missing the signals.
“Child sexual exploitation is a critical area and I think the MASH is a huge step in working more effectively,” he said.