POLICE launched a new strategy on National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day in a bid to combat the crime and rescue those suffering abuse around the county.

The strategy will build on the work already happening with the multi-agency Emerald team, which works directly with children and their families to reduce the risk of child sexual exploitation and provides support to others who may be working with youngsters at risk.

It will ensure local councils and businesses safeguard children from harm, recognise the signs of CSE and know what to do when worried about a young person, provide a rapid effective response to protect coerced young people and pursue those responsible for exploiting them.

The scheme was launched with Wiltshire Council.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We all have a responsibility to ensure our children and young people are safe.

“We all need to recognise the signs and act if we have concerns. Wiltshire is a safe place to live, however exploitation is still happening.

“This new plan sets out clear actions to counteract the threat and ensure our children and young people can be safe.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime that has a devastating impact on victims and their families and tackling this is a force priority.

“I’ve allocated funding to a number of services supporting victims and am also working with those who have offended to stop them from reoffending.”

Wiltshire Police urged Swindon residents to be on the look-out for any indication that a young person is being coerced or manipulated into sexual activity and speak out if they think a child is in danger.

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The force has its own dedicated team to tackle the crime, provide specialist guidance to other departments and ensure that frontline officers can notice potential victims when attending other incidents.

Force tactical lead for CSE Detective Inspector Mark Kent said: “Victims of this type of crime will have been through horrific ordeals, but they often do not see themselves as victims of exploitation.

“With this in mind, it is really important that we build up a rapport with our young people and that they know we are here to help them. We are continuing to work extremely closely with partner agencies, including local authorities to not just bring offenders to justice, but to provide support to victims.”

Call 999 if a child is in immediate danger, or if concerned call MASH on 01793 466903 or 101.