The sexual exploitation of children in the West Midlands is a ‘growing problem’, according to the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Bob Jones was addressing the Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking summit at Wolverhampton Science Park and said: “We are dealing with more cases every year and the incidents are more widespread.”
And the conference heard more than 200 people in the West Midlands have been identified by police as being involved in child sexual exploitation.
Mr Jones added: “We also have to consider the cyber element of the crime. Perpetrators using the internet to groom children means this is not just a regional problem it is international.
“Although this could mean people are more willing to report crimes, there is little doubt the grooming and the sexual exploitation of children is a growing problem.”
In August, West Midlands Police launched a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation – a form of child abuse where victims are given food, money, drugs, alcohol, gifts or affection in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.
Mr Jones said the police had a commitment to protect vulnerable victims across the region. He said: “We are being proactive when it comes to the issue of child safety and there are no grounds for complacency.”
The seminar was attended by police, victims of abuse, counsellors and social workers in an effort to look at ways organisations can come together to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Superintendent Tim Bacon, from West Midlands Police, said the police must also look at ways to prevent exploitation. He said: “Our aim as a police force is to be better for the victim, better at tackling offenders and better to work with as a partner.”