Devon and Cornwall Police must prioritise tackling child sexual exploitation, building on work they have already done to support young victims and facilitate prosecutions, says Labour candidate for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s new Police and Crime Commissioner Nicky Williams, announcing her support for UK children’s charity Barnardo’s Cut Them Free campaign.
Pledging to work with the Devon and Cornwall Police Force to help make child sexual exploitation in Devon, Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly a thing of the past Nicky Williams said: “As a member of Plymouth’s Children’s Safeguarding Board I have been working in partnership with other agencies to tackle the problem of child sexual exploitation.
“I fully support Barnardo’s campaign to cut children free from sexual exploitation and if elected I will take the necessary steps to tackle this abuse within my local Police and Crime Plan.
“There is no place in our community for this vile form of abuse. Police have an important role to play in exposing the callous criminals who target and manipulate children for sex.”
Barnardo’s have developed an anti-child sexual exploitation checklist of seven ‘achievable asks’ for police forces in England and Wales, highlighting key improvements that would help identify and support victims who have been abused, protect young people at risk and facilitate the prosecution of abusers.
Welcoming Nicky Williams’ support, Barnardo’s South West director, Yvonne Rodgers said: “Children in Devon and Cornwall are being groomed, trapped and exploited for sex. This appalling abuse must stop. By making this commitment it is clear Nicky Williams appreciates the seriousness of the issue and understands that tackling this serious crime head-on will help make Devon and Cornwall safer for all our children.”
Elections for the new post of Police and Crime Commissioner are to be held on November 15, 2012.