Campaign launched in Stevenage to tackle child sexual exploitation across Hertfordshire

Richard Roberts, member for children services, Michelle Dunn, assistant chief constable, Phil Picton

Richard Roberts, member for children services, Michelle Dunn, assistant chief constable, Phil Picton, herts safe guarding childrens board chair and David Lloyd, police and crime commissioner - Credit: Archant

Crime and child protection chiefs yesterday denied ‘playing catch-up’ as they launched a new campaign to tackle child sexual exploitation in the county.

Phil Picton, herts safe guarding childrens board chair

Phil Picton, herts safe guarding childrens board chair - Credit: Archant

The Say Something If You See Something campaign, launched at the Novotel hotel in Stevenage, aims to get business owners and members of the public to be their eyes and ears, reporting any suspicious activity and helping them thwart exploiters.

Hertfordshire’s police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said: “It has to be all of our responsibility to stop this.

“Report it, do not just hope it will go away.

“One victim is one victim too many and children do not deserve to suffer.”

Members of the Herts police force and high ranking members of Herts County Council, which has child protection responsibilities, denied the organisations were “playing catch up” in the wake of the Rotherham scandal and other high-profile problems in the country.

Councillor Richard Roberts said County Hall had been working for at least three years to tackle the issue, and the new campaign was a continuation of the work already done.

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The campaign is asking businesses to keep an eye out for young boys and girls who could be being abused.

And a series of posters and leaflets will be on display around town centres in the county to encourage people to report anything suspicious.

Phil Picton, who chairs Hertfordshire’s safeguarding children board, said: “The campaign is about getting that message out there into the wider community.”

Stevenage has had 140 CSE referrals since the start of the year, one of the highest rates in the county.

But campaign organisers stress everyone, whether they live in a city, town or village, should be aware that child sexual exploitation could be happening anywhere in the county.

If you have any concerns contact police on the non-emergency number 101.

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