This week the Department for Education launched a social media campaign, entitled: “Together, we can tackle child abuse”. The campaign aims to inform people about the different types of child abuse and neglect; educate them on how to spot the signs; and reassure them about the reporting process, and support them through it. It also seeks to remind professionals, including teachers and healthcare professionals who work with children, of their safeguarding responsibilities.
The Department for Education’s campaign coincided with some disturbing figures published by the NSPCC on the scale of child sexual abuse in the UK, as the charity calls for more training and support for officers to tackle this abhorrent crime.
Across the UK, figures were up by 15 per cent to 64,667, with an offence recorded on average every eight minutes.
In Sussex, more than four child sex offences a day are recorded by Sussex Police, with the total for 2016-17 up 13 per cent on the previous year to 1,694. 46 offences recorded by Sussex Police were flagged as having an online element.
This is only the tip of the iceberg as the total number of sex offences committed against children is unknown, as more children may not have come forward out of fear or embarrassment or may not even realise they have been abused.
Katy Bourne says: “To help tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation, police officers need to be equipped to work with other agencies and have ongoing support and training. This is why I funded the post of a child sexual exploitation (CSE) analyst, whose intelligence-led role is helping Sussex Police to identify the immediate risks and emerging challenges around CSE. I have also funded a Child Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (CISVA) to help support child victims of sexual abuse in Sussex. And along with the Chief Constable, I have ensured there is extra investment in specialist training for officers and staff and in digital forensics to help the police catch the perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
Today, Katy Bourne held her regular Performance & Accountability Meeting with the Chief Constable. This monthly meeting is webcast live, so anyone can tune in to watch it, and a recording is also available after the meeting.
Some of the topics she questioned the Chief Constable and his senior team on included:
• the integrity of forensic evidence, following one of the main forensic services to a number of police forces going into administration;
• the illegal supply of Prescription Only Medicines onto the criminal market;
• how Sussex Police is tackling knife crime in the county and educating young people about the consequences of carrying a knife; and
• the police response to rural crime, including wildlife, heritage and environmental crime.
Live highlights from each meeting are on Twitter using the hashtag #SussexPoliceScrutiny so you can follow the conversation on social media or if you’d like to watch the full meeting on catch up please click here.