Tees

Middlesbrough primary school children 'targeted for sex'

Sexual exploitation is a "growth industry" with children as young as 11 being targeted, councillors have heard.

Middlesbrough Council has been told of incidents of primary school children in the town being groomed.

Martin Burnett, assistant head teacher at Acklam Grange Secondary School, said child sex exploitation (CSE) was "extremely prevalent in Middlesbrough".

The claims were made in a report by the council's community safety and leisure scrutiny panel.

The panel has prepared a report on the issue which will be discussed by the council's executive on Tuesday.

Mr Burnett gave evidence to the panel along with other groups and experts such as Barnado's and Cleveland Police.

'Growth industry'

Its report said: "When speaking to the assistant head teacher from Acklam Grange school the panel learnt that CSE in Middlesbrough was a 'growth industry' and that it was extremely prevalent in Middlesbrough.

"Worryingly members heard that the risk was not only to secondary school pupils and that incidences of primary school pupils being targeted had been picked up in the transition process from primary to secondary school."

Regular patrols were made by police, youth workers and other agencies to find potentially vulnerable children, the panel heard.

In one incident, three 12 year-old girls were found out at night with a group of 18-year-old males.

The panel heard there were numerous schemes in the town tackling the problem but concluded more needed to be done.

It said: "The importance of the whole community looking out for evidence of CSE cannot be underestimated."

The panel said child sex exploitation "will not be tolerated" in Middlesbrough and is urging people to be on the look out for potential cases of youngsters being groomed or abused.

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