With the news that there are soaring numbers of people using the internet to groom and abuse children a new helpline has been launchedfor victims.
Lancashire Police received a record 468 referrals for child sexual exploitation between January and March – more than five a day.
Det Chief Supt Ian Critchley, the force’s head of crime, said: “I am staggered by the number of people we are identifying, both locally and nationally, who are viewing, sharing or grooming young people online.
“It is a sad aspect of our society.”
A new national helpline has been launched that supports the victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Young people can call or text the free ‘Say Something’ helpline on 116000 and speak with trained and experienced staff and volunteers in total confidence 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.
They will also be offered the chance to share their information with the police.
It has been created as part of a wider ‘Say Something’ campaign aimed at making young people aware of CSE and helping them do something about it as soon as possible.
The helpline is operated by the charity Missing People, together with the National Working Group Network (NWG), and is funded by the Department of Education.
County Councillor Azhar Ali, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “This helpline is hugely important and I’m delighted to be able to support it.
“It will provide non-judgmental advice, as well as putting young people in touch with services that can help them, in addition to the police.
“It will also be provide advice to anyone who has concerns about any young person they suspect may be being exploited.”
Child sexual exploitation is a type of child abuse that manipulates or forces victims into sexual activity, often in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, gifts, alcohol or accommodation.
Missing People will deliver the helpline service and the transfer of information to the police and appropriate agencies to enable an efficient and appropriate response.
The helpline is also available for anyone who has concerns about the safety of someone they know.
It is hoped that many more offenders will be caught and further crimes stopped by raising awareness and educating people about CSE and by making sure protection measures are put in place.
The helpline number is 116000.