Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of abuse that can affect any child or young person, and Bedfordshire Police are working hard to raise awareness of and tackle this issue.

Lisa Robinson who is Bedfordshire’s CSE co-ordinator tells how they are tackling Child Sexual Exploitation:-

Children can be exploited for money, power or status, or become involved in exploitative situations, contexts or relationships, where the young person receives something, such as accommodation, drugs, alcohol, affection, or gifts in return for some kind of sexual act.

It can also occur through the use of technology, without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post or share intimate images, either through mobile apps or online.

To make sure we are making the best impact in our fight against CSE, we have adopted a multi-agency partnership approach, which sees the police working together with Luton Borough Council, Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, and other statutory and voluntary agencies all working together.

Towards the end of last year, I was appointed as the dedicated CSE Coordinator for Bedfordshire, and my role is to ensure that each organisation is responding to, raising awareness of and disrupting and preventing CSE.

I work closely with Pete Gomm, who is the CSE Coordinator for Bedfordshire Police. Together, we have created a CSE Disruption Toolkit, we organise the Bedfordshire Against CSE conferences, and we lead on awareness campaigns.

We currently have a social media campaign running called #ItHappensToBoysToo. Research shows that boys aren’t as willing as girls to disclose if something is happening to them, and we want to get the message out that it’s OK to tell someone.

We are working with a number of strong male role models, such as Olympic medallists, Kriss Akabusi and Etienne Stott, police officers, local councillors and local sporting personalities, who have posed for photographs with our awareness sign, so look out for this on social media over the coming weeks and help us share the message.

After the success of last year’s CSE conference, with guest speakers, Sammy Woodhouse and Lorin La Fave, we have been busy organising this year’s event which is taking place at the beginning of November.

CSE is happening in our county, and it is important that we are all aware of the signs of exploitation and how to report it. Safeguarding children is everyone’s business and we want to encourage people to speak out if they feel something isn’t quite right.

If you want to find out more about CSE, or just need a bit of advice or guidance, visit our Bedfordshire Against CSE website.