Almost 500 children and young people in the West Midlands have been the victims of sexual exploitation in the past six months, according to a new report published today.
The assessment report, looking at the extent of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the region, found 488 young people had either been sexually exploited or were at ‘serious’ risk during the first six months of 2014.
A third of the children identified by the report were in local authority care, although a quarter of children living at home had been in a care home at some point. Victims of CSE were more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol, have increased sexual health issues and experience domestic violence.
It also found a ‘disproportionate’ number of offenders were from an Asian Pakistani background.
Regional strategic lead on preventing violence against vulnerable people, Stephen Rimmer, led the review and said it sets out how local authorities, the police and other partners can tackle CSE.
‘This assessment gives us a proper picture for the first time of the scale and nature of the CSE threat across the West Midlands,’ he said.
‘Since this snapshot we have put into practice common standards and a shared regional approach to coordinate our operational activity, we have launched an awareness raising campaign to inform young people, parents and communities and we have engaged directly with front line staff – teachers, GPs, taxi drivers and many others.’
Commenting on behalf of the seven West Midlands local authorities, Solihull’s chief executive Nick Page, said: ‘The perpetrators of this horrendous abuse are, whilst evil, very adept at disguising their activity. As the statutory agencies our duty, responsibility and purpose to protect children and young people is crystal clear. Working together with our communities and partners across the West Midlands has to be the way to go.
‘So we can say today that some progress is being made, whilst being clear there is so much more we must do.’