Reassurances given over child exploitation

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The appalling sexual exploitation of more than 1,400 young girls in South Yorkshire could not happen in Calderdale, a council boss has said.

Stuart Smith, director of Children and Young People’s Services at the council, has said his department has several measures in place to help protect vulnerable children from organised gangs.

He said: “Recent national news stories have understandably raised people’s concerns about how children are protected from child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse in our towns and cities.

“I would personally like to reassure residents in Calderdale that we are working hard to make sure that we keep all of our children safe. And we listen to children. If they tell us that they are being harmed then we believe them, and we do everything we can to help them.”

Mr Smith said his department works closely with police, health workers, young offending services and schools to identify vulnerable young people, and have daily meetings about those highlighted as being most at risk.

He said the council are satisfied that his department have been working within the two pages of recommendations set out in Professor Alexis Jay’s report on abuse in Rotherham.

He said: “To prevent exploitation and abuse it’s vital that we talk to children about the dangers and make sure that our teachers can spot the signs of exploitation.

“If we want to prevent CSE then we all need to know the signs.”

Mr Smith was unable to comment on an ongoing investigation into more than 40 men arrest in connection with child sexual exploitation in summer 2013.

To find out more visit the West Yorkshire Police ‘Know the signs’ campaign at

www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse.

If you are ever concerned about the welfare of a child call 01422 393336 or 0845 1111137 after 5pm.