The Westmorland GazetteMulti-agency webchat to tackle child sexual exploitation (From The Westmorland Gazette)

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Multi-agency webchat to tackle child sexual exploitation

ISSUES surrounding child sexual exploitation will be discussed in a webchat on Monday.

Cumbria Constabulary will host the webchat, where people in Cumbria can ask any questions they may have on the issue.

The webchat follows a week of advice and information about child sexual exploitation.

During 2012-2013 there were 204 reports of sexual offences and 23 reports of obscene publications, where the victim was under 18 years old.

The webchat will feature representatives from Cumbria Constabulary, Children’s Services, Inspira, NSPCC, and the NHS.

DI Nick Coughlan for the Public Protection Unit at Cumbria Constabulary said: “The webchat is a perfect opportunity for the general public to ask any questions they may have around CSE. A number of agencies will be available to share their expertise.

“CSE can happen to any child, anywhere. It is vitally important that parents and adults recognise the signs of CSE, as often a young person may not realise that they are at risk and may even see themselves as willing participants.

“It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. It can take many forms, whether it occurs through a seemingly 'consensual' relationship with an older boyfriend, or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes.

“Sexual exploitation is child abuse and, although they may not realise it, it puts the young victim at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.”

The webchat will take place between 6.30pm and 8pm and can be accessed at www.cumbria.police.uk/contact-us/web-chats/cse-webchat

Anyone with concerns about child sexual exploitation can contact Cumbria Police on 101, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Young victims can report anonymously at: www.fearless.org

For more information on CSE visit the Cumbria Police website at www.cumbria.police.uk/cse

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