West Midlands Police help public spot child sex victims

Former child abuse victim Elizabeth Wood waived her right to anonymity to stress the importance of identifying the signs of child abuse in children

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A police campaign is helping the public identify signs of child sexual exploitation.

West Midlands Police has produced posters and billboards to educate people on the signs of abuse.

The force will also work more closely with schools, parents, carers, social services, charities and local authorities.

Supt Tim Bacon said: "Identifying the victims will lead us to offenders, whoever and wherever they are."

'Horrifying crimes'

The force said child sexual exploitation is where victims are given something such as food, money, drugs, alcohol, gifts or affection in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.

Poster message

One of the posters reads: "If someone you are talking to online:

  • Touches themselves in a sexual way in front of you
  • Asks you to touch yourself sexually in front of them
  • Makes you look at sexual material such as photos or videos
  • Does or says anything sexual that feels uncomfortable or wrong

Tell an adult you trust or call police on 101."

In June three people, including a former teacher, were jailed for sexually exploiting a teenage girl in Birmingham.

In August, 10 men in Coventry were charged with sexual exploitation offences and the related investigation continues.

Cath Hannon, from the Police and Crime Commissioner's Strategic Policing and Crime Board, said the public could help to uncover "some of the most horrifying crimes within our society".

The force said it will also focus on honour-based violence, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and domestic abuse.

Supt Bacon said victims were unlikely to report abuse so he urged people to "be alert to the signs" and "actively look for victims".

Liz Murphy, from the West Midlands Child Sexual Exploitation Strategic Group, said: "We need to be open to the possibility that any child or young person could be targeted and sexually exploited and be particularly vigilant when working with those young people who we know are more vulnerable."

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