Cambridgeshire Police has launched a new child sexual exploitation awareness campaign after a 677% rise in reports of this type of crime in the county in the past 12 months.
Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse in which the victim is given something in exchange for sexual activity with the abuser.
It is a crime that can affect girls and boys, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their background or culture.
However, police say it often goes unnoticed with some children and young people believing they are in a loving, consensual relationship.
Last year officers in the county received 140 reports of child sexual exploitation. This is up 677% from 2014 (April-Dec) when 18 offences were reported. However, please noted that the crime group ‘CSE’ was only introduced in April 2014 and no history exists prior to this.
Detective Sergeant Kath McCready from the Child Sexual Exploitation Team hopes the awareness campaign will help victims, their friends, relatives and carers recognise this type of behaviour as abuse and report it to police or partner agencies.
She said: “Child sexual exploitation often goes unnoticed but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
“The sad reality, as our figures demonstrate, is that there are vulnerable children in the county being groomed and abused.
“We need to educate and make young people aware of this type of exploitation so that we can help them make the right decisions about relationships.”