Published Friday 20 March 2015 at 9:58
Young people, parents and staff heard presentations by a survivor of child sexual exploitation and her father at a special event in Blackburn to mark national child sexual exploitation awareness day.
The event at Pleckgate High School also marked the 10th anniversary of Engage, the multi agency team established to tackle child sexual exploitation in Blackburn with Darwen. It first launched as a police operation in 2005 and subsequently became a broader partnership with the Council and Barnardo’s, overseen by the Local Safeguarding Children Board, in 2008.
Lancashire Police also marked the day with training on child sexual exploitation and early warning signs for frontline police officers.
Engage works to identify and support children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation and their families, raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and bring offenders to justice. The majority of the team’s work is preventative. Around 75% of referrals are children who are considered at risk – but not currently victims of – sexual exploitation who receive support to prevent them becoming involved in abusive relationships. Engage has been held up nationally as an example of best practice and won numerous awards
Nancy Palmer, Independent Chair of Blackburn with Darwen Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), said:
We are extremely fortunate in this area to have our multi agency Engage team working to tackle child sexual exploitation, but we are never complacent. On national Child Sexual Exploitation awareness day we wanted to reflect on what has been achieved and also remind people that safeguarding children is everyone’s business.
We heard from a young lady called Emma Jackson and her father, who described their experiences as a family suffering from the trauma of child sexual exploitation. It was a fantastic presentation and very beneficial to young people, parents and professionals.
For more information about Engage and warning signs of child sexual exploitation, visit the Child Sexual Exploitation page at www.blackburn.gov.uk
If you have any concerns that someone you know may be a victim of child sexual exploitation, contact the Engage team on 01254 353651 for advice. Alternatively, call Lancashire Police on 101 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency or if a crime is ongoing always dial 999.