Melton people are being urged to support a major multi-agency ‘CEASE’ campaign to tackle child sexual exploitation.
As well as aiming to get everyone who lives and works in Leicestershire and Rutland to pledge their support, the CEASE campaign hopes to help raise greater public awareness of child sexual exploitation, the signs it may be happening and increase the reporting of offences and the prosecution of offenders.
Since its launch last month the multi-agency campaign has received more than 700 online pledges, including football legend Gary Lineker, Bend It Like Beckham actress Parminder Nagra, BBC Apprentice star Melody Houssaini, X Factor winner Sam Bailey, Leicester City goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Leicester Tigers players Tom Croft, Sam Harrison, Freddie Burns and Oli Bryant.
Leicestershire Police, and partner agencies, have launched two new ways for people to pledge their support to end child sexual abuse.
Alongside the CEASE - the Commitment to Eradicate Abuse and Sexual Exploitation - online pledge, you can now support the campaign by texting CEASE to 87007.
Thousands of CEASE hands will also be distributed across Leicestershire and Rutland, in places such as community centres, libraries and doctors surgeries, for people to sign.
The signed hands will then go on display in public areas as a visual representation of everyone’s commitment to tackling the crime.
To show support for the campaign representatives from the force, councils, safeguarding boards, health, members of the Youth Commission and other local agencies have had their hands photographed with the hashtag #LLRCEASE, the number to text to make a pledge and other messages backing the initiative.
Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “The key to tackling child sexual exploitation is greater public awareness of the issue and the signs that may indicate a child is in danger.
“Through the CEASE pledge we have begun to make good progress in asking people to do what they can to help eradicate this crime.
“We hope that the launch of the text service and the signing of hands will make it even easier for people to show their support. The display will visually show Leicestershire and Rutland’s on-going commitment and help ensure the momentum for this campaign continues.”
CEASE builds on the progress already made by partners across Leicestershire and Rutland to tackle child sexual exploitation and it is one of 12 separate multi-agency projects being funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader to protect the vulnerable.
Last summer, Sir Clive announced he would make up to £2m available to support creative and innovative multi-agency projects aimed at enhancing the work already being done to tackle child sexual exploitation which he describes as “an insidious and wicked crime against the most vulnerable in society”.
Sir Clive added: “Sadly it remains an inescapable fact that exploitation is all too often a ‘hidden crime’ due to reluctance on the part of the victim, or those closest to them, to come forward. It’s so important that those who have suffered this type of abuse, or who fear they are at risk of exploitation, report it. They can do this either to the police or another support organisation where they can get help, and whichever route, they can be assured that they will be treated with respect and sensitivity.
“CEASE is already showing its potential to make a real difference with its joined-up approach to tackling the problem with other local agencies. But everyone has a responsibility and I urge people not to turn a blind eye, but to be aware of the signs and alive to the issue - and to speak up on behalf of others.”
David Jones, chairman of the Leicester Safeguarding Children Board, said: “It’s vitally important that we protect young people from this abuse. Teachers, social workers, foster carers and taxi drivers are all being trained on how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation, but it’s also an issue that the wider community needs to be aware of. Child sexual exploitation is everyone’s business.”
Paul Burnett, independent chairman of the Leicestershire and Rutland Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime, we remain committed to tackling it.
“By working together, local agencies have made real progress, including launching a multi-agency child sexual exploitation team, which is already securing convictions. But importantly, CEASE and the other 12 projects will enable us to do more to prevent child sexual exploitation, protect and provide for those at risk, pursue and prosecute perpetrators and strengthen our partnership.
“It’s now even easier to get behind CEASE. By simply sending a text or signing your name, you can show your support for this important campaign.”
Information for young people, parents, carers and businesses, including the signs to look out for, are available via the Leicestershire & Rutland Safeguarding Children Board’s website lrsb.org.uk/cse
Anyone who has concerns about a child is urged not to keep any worries to themselves. They should contact the police on 101 for non-emergencies or 999 if they are concerned a child is in immediate danger.
Texts to support CEASE will be charged at the rate of a standard text message.