Published on 16th March 2020

A national awareness day to highlight child exploitation (CE) and how to spot the signs and report the crime is being supported by Cheshire Constabulary and Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner.

The day takes place on March 18 and aims to highlight the issues surrounding CE by getting people to write important messages of support - encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against exploitation.

Chief constable Darren Martland and the police and crime commissioner David Keane will be writing a message – making a powerful statement of their commitment to protect vulnerable children from being exploited in Cheshire.

They will also be joined in their pledges by officers and staff across the organisation along with people from partner agencies.

Knowing these signs is key to helping to stop child exploitation:
• Unexplained injuries e.g. bruising
• Regularly using drugs or drinking alcohol
• Mood swings, aggression towards others
• Truancy or a drop in performance at school
• Self-harm – e.g. cutting or eating disorders
• Change in appearance, or borrowing clothes from others
• Always tired
• Unexplained relationships with older people
• Staying out late, not returning home
• They have unexplained gifts, expensive clothes, mobile phones
• Unexplained money, frequently taking part in activities requiring money
• Unknown vehicles dropping them off or picking them up
• Unknown friends on their social media sites
• Secretive phone calls and internet use

Cheshire Constabulary has a fundamental duty to protect those who are most vulnerable within our communities. This national campaign provides us with a crucial opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers, the signs and the indicators of abuse so that we can effectively safeguard our children and bring to justice those who exploit them.

Police and crime commissioner, David Keane, said: “Child exploitation targets some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Victims can be manipulated and forced into something they do not want to do, often in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or accommodation. It can happen to any young person in Cheshire regardless of their gender or any other characteristic.

“Cheshire police work tirelessly to protect our young people from this abhorrent crime but we also need members of the community to support us by being able to recognise the common signs of CE and report any suspicions to protect young people across the county.”

Detective chief superintendent Denise Worth added: “Our child exploitation officers work hard all year round to protect children and to ensure the appropriate advice, support and safeguarding is in place for them.

“We would urge everyone to know and see the signs of CE and be a voice for those who may not be able to speak up for themselves. Local communities can help play their part and look out for their neighbours by knowing how to spot if someone is being coerced, exploited or taken advantage of.

“It is important to remember there is never one type of victim or offender and that child sexual exploitation can happen to anyone. The impact this type of crime can have on a child is absolutely devastating and can have a long lasting and significant effect on all those involved.”

There are various forms of exploitation that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into activities in exchange for things such as money, gifts, accommodation, affection or status. The manipulation or 'grooming' process involves befriending children, gaining their trust, and often supplying them with drugs and alcohol, sometimes over a long period of time.

If you suspect someone is carrying out CE, that someone is being exploited, or that you have been a victim yourself, please report it to any of the authorities or the police on 101. In an emergency, dial 999.

For more information about the signs of child exploitation and for help and support, visit www.knowandsee.co.uk