Workshops aimed at preventing child sexual exploitation to launch in Stevenage

Stevenage Police are appealing for witnesses following a diamond theft

Stevenage Police are appealing for witnesses following a diamond theft - Credit: Archant

Workshops aimed at preventing girls from becoming involved in child sexual exploitation will take place in Stevenage after police identified a group at risk in the town.

Chief Inspector Dave Newsome

Chief Inspector Dave Newsome - Credit: Archant

The pilot scheme, which is the first in the county, will work with a group of young girls in the Stevenage area.

Six workshops will take place over the coming months and if they are successful they could be rolled out across Hertfordshire.

Nick Dinnage, who oversees the team dealing with looked-after children at Herts County Council, revealed the plans at a meeting on Monday.

Last year the Comet revealed that Stevenage was ‘at risk’ of child sexual exploitation and it was made clear in the meeting agenda it was still considered a ‘key town’ for the crime.

You may also want to watch:

CSE is the sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 who are involved in ‘relationships’ where they receive something – such as alcohol, cigarettes or money – as a result of performing sexual activities with others.

New statistics revealed by the police show that Stevenage has had the highest amount of CSE referrals made between April and December 2014. In the time period 13 referrals were made to the police or county council – another eight were made in North Herts.

Most Read

In total 77 referrals were made across the county.

Police also revealed that a police operation was under way to gain information about another group of teenagers in the Stevenage and Welwyn Hatfield areas.

Herts police’s Det Chief Insp David Newsome, who is head of the HALO team which tackles CSE, said “signs and symptoms” were being seen in girls aged 15 and 16.

But the cases are no longer being investigated as CSE, he said, as there were no signs of duress.

Mr Newsome said: “I think we are in a healthy position but it’d be foolish to say it’s not there.

“I think what we can be confident of is that there is no lack of ethics or enthusiasm to really nail down CSE in Hertfordshire.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter