Charity workers to join fight against child sex exploitation

STAFF from children’s charity Barnardo’s have joined teams in South Yorkshire which are working to combat child sexual exploitation.

South Yorkshire Police said the charity is giving a “major injection of support” by providing four specialist workers to join existing “multi-agency” teams in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

The staff, who will be working as a “Barnardo’s Satellite” team, took up their roles this week.

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This comes at a time when major reviews have been launched into how both the police and other authorities in South Yorkshire deal with sexual exploitation of children.

Temporary detective superintendent Phil Etheridge, who is South Yorkshire Police’s lead officer responsible for investigating and preventing child sexual exploitation, said he was “delighted to receive such support.”

He added: “Tackling child sexual exploitation cannot be achieved by one agency alone.

“If we are to prevent such terrible crimes happening in the first place and investigate those who do commit such offences, we need the support of partner agencies.

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“I’m delighted and really grateful to Barnado’s for providing these four workers, each of whom will work within our existing child sexual exploitation teams.

“They will make a significant contribution to our work in this highly specialist field.”

The Barnardo’s Satellite team will work directly with children to help prevent them being exploited, or to escape further sexual exploitation.

They will also go into schools and meet with community groups in order to raise awareness of the dangers of child sexual exploitation.

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Director of Barnardo’s Yorkshire, Steve Oversby, said: “Child sexual exploitation devastates lives.

“It’s vital that we do all we can to ensure victims are identified and given the help they need to move on from the abuse they have suffered.

“We know that sexual exploitation is going on in every town and city in the UK and child victims continue to go unidentified as tell-tale signs are overlooked due to a lack of awareness.

“We’re determined, along with our partners in South Yorkshire, to tackle this horrific crime and help those who have been affected to rebuild their lives.”

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Funding for the four members of staff will be available for at least a year, a spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said.

Local authorities in South Yorkshire have been hit by a series of damaging sex abuse revelations.

Four women are set to sue Rotherham council for “systematic failures to protect them from sexual abuse by predatory men” when they were children.

Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council, said earlier this month that he would be launching an independent inquiry into the council’s handling of historic child abuse allegations.

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And, last month, three major reviews were launched into 
how child grooming offences 
were dealt with in the region by Shaun Wright, police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire.

He announced plans to set up a new team of detectives to carry out a “wide-ranging investigation” of all allegations of historic child sex abuse.

He also asked Yorkshire’s chief crown prosecutor to review all historic abuse cases in the county where the Crown Prosecution Service was involved, to check if charges should have been brought.

And Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary was asked by Mr Wright to conduct a “thorough review of the process and structures currently in place in South Yorkshire Police” to investigate child sexual explotation allegations.

Mr Wright had previously pledged an extra £500,000 a year to pay for 10 detectives and an analyst to tackle such crimes.