Child exploitation team helps safeguard 75 youngsters - The Leamington Observer

Child exploitation team helps safeguard 75 youngsters

Ian Hughes 24th Mar, 2024   0

SEVENTY-FIVE youngsters in Warwickshire have been saved from child exploitation in the past year.

They have been helped by a dedicated child trafficking and exploitation team launched by Warwickshire Police nearly 12 months ago.

The team has played a direct role in safeguarding 75 young people who had been or were at risk of being exploited – either for sexual or criminal ends.

Speaking as part of Child Exploitation Week, Supt Pete Hill, public protection lead for Warwickshire Police, said: “Unfortunately there will always be people who will look to exploit children who are often some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“The setting up the new team last year meant for the first time we had officers solely specialising in the trafficking and exploitation of children.

“Children are often more vulnerable to exploitation because they trust their abuser and don’t realise they are being exploited. When they do realise, they feel unable to tell anyone due to violence, intimidation, and fear.

“The public is becoming a lot more alert to the signs of children being exploited either sexually or for criminal gain. The vigilance of our communities and the reports we receive from them are vital in helping us tackle child exploitation. I encourage people to continue to look a little closer, ask questions and raise any concerns they have.”

The team has also issued 30 Child Abduction Warning Notices (CAWN) and 25 Child Exploitation Warning Notices (CEWN) since its introduction.

These can be issued to potential suspects early in an investigation, banning them from associating with a named child.

And while non-compliance is not a criminal offence it can provide evidence to support a criminal prosecution.

Supt Hill added: “CAWNs and CEWNs are a useful tool to help us protect vulnerable people while we work to establish whether an offence has taken place. Quite often they are enough of a warning to discourage potential offenders by showing that we are aware of concerns around their behaviour.”

Signs of child exploitation include a young person going missing from home or care, physical injuries, misuse of drugs or alcohol, involvement in offending, repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations, deterioration in physical appearance, receiving gifts from unknown sources and self-harming.

Anyone who suspects a child is being exploited, can report it by going to or call 101. If someone is in immediate danger call 999.

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