POLICE are highlighting their efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation – and specialist officers were in Fleetwood to chat to the public on Thursday.
Officers from the Operation Breakthrough team, whose investigations cover Wyre, were at the Asda Fleetwood store from 10am to 4pm.
It is part of Lancashire Police’s week-long, county-wide campaign to increase people’s understanding of the issue and help prevent child abuse, help victims and bring offenders to justice.
Residents were able to report any concerns they had.
The force is one of the leading constabularies in the country for its approach to tackling child sexual exploitation and has been held up as an example of best practice by the Government.
Det Supt Ian Critchley, head of public protection for Lancashire Police, said: “Sexual exploitation is a form of abuse where young people are forced or manipulated into sexual activity.
“The abuser may groom the young person into trusting them – this can be done face-to-face or online – and they then exploit this trust for their own gain.
“Sometimes they may get the young person to engage in sexual activity by giving them attention, treats, alcohol, drugs or a place to stay; sometimes they may manipulate the young person into believing they are in a consensual relationship and that they love them.
“Either way, the young person is being taken advantage of through this controlling behaviour; it is child abuse and the victims face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health.”
He added: “Child sexual exploitation can affect young people from all social and ethnic backgrounds and takes place in local communities all over the country.
“In the same way, offenders come from many different backgrounds but have one thing in common, they are abusing young people.”
The force will also use its Twitter page to share insights from those who work within its child sexual exploitation teams. You can follow the updates @LancsPolice #keepkidssafe.
Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can contact the Operation Breakthrough team on (01524) 596 764 or police on 101.