HELP STOP CHILD EX­PLOITA­TION

Po­lice in Chiltern and South Bucks are ‘ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted’ to pre­vent­ing child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion in the area. LAURA MOWAT talks to area com­man­der Supt Steve Hockin and Chiltern Com­mu­nity Safety Part­ner­ship’s se­nior com­mu­nity safety of­fi­cer Katie Galv

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TOP po­lice­man has said child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is an is­sue in ‘leafy’ Bucks and is call­ing on the pub­lic to help po­lice catch those re­spon­si­ble.

Area com­man­der for Chiltern and South Bucks, Supt Steve Hockin, has said tack­ling child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is a pri­or­ity and he is call­ing on read­ers to re­port their sus­pi­cions to the po­lice.

Child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is when a young per­son un­der 18 re­ceives some­thing such as ac­com­mo­da­tion, food, drugs, al­co­hol, gifts, money or af­fec­tion in ex­change for en­gag­ing in sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties.

While child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion has re­ceived a lot of na­tional me­dia cov­er­age in light of cases such as that of Jimmy Sav­ile, the child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion ring in Rochdale and Old­ham and the gang from Ox­ford who were jailed for sex­u­ally ex­ploit­ing un­der­age girls, Supt Hockin said it is also hap­pen­ing on our doorstep.

In Oc­to­ber, Lee Wake­lin, 32, of Up­per George Street, Che­sham, and Arslan Khan, 21, of Sev­er­alls Av­enue, Che­sham, were sentenced to a com­bined to­tal of 15 years in prison for child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion charges, which in­cluded lur­ing a 15-year-old girl into pros­ti­tu­tion.

Supt Hockin said: “I think it’s wrong to be­lieve child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion hap­pens in big ci­ties and is or­gan­ised by groups of men.

“It’s some­thing that hap­pens in all com­mu­ni­ties.

“Sadly it’s also hap­pen­ing in Chiltern and South Bucks and the mes­sage is es­pe­cially im­por­tant be­cause peo­ple might be­lieve be­cause they live in a nice leafy part of the world it’s not hap­pen­ing here, but it can hap­pen and it does hap­pen here.

“The po­lice are do­ing a lot of work to look after the vic­tims and stop it from hap­pen­ing here, but we can only do that if we have the help and support of the vic­tims and the pub­lic. The mes­sage is to re­port it – you will be be­lieved and it will be in­ves­ti­gated.

“I feel quite pas­sion­ate about this and I think I speak on be­half of my col­leagues when I say we’re ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to pre­vent­ing this type of crime and we will fo­cus on mak­ing life ex­tremely un­pleas­ant and dif­fi­cult for those peo­ple who com­mit this type of of­fence.

“Th­ese of­fend­ers are preda­tors who know what they’re do­ing and they’re ma­nip­u­lat­ing and ex­ploit­ing vul­ner­a­ble young peo­ple.

“The vic­tims are not the ones to blame, it’s about the of­fender who will con­tinue to com­mit this type of crime. We’ve had some suc­cess in re­cent months and we want that to con­tinue.

“The mes­sage is clear, if you think it’s hap­pen­ing, tell us. If you’re a vic­tim, talk to peo­ple, and if you’re an of­fender, watch out.”

Supt Hockin stressed child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is never the vic­tim’s fault, that it hap­pens to boys and young men as well as girls and young women and that it is not an of­fence com­mit­ted by any one group of peo­ple, but by peo­ple in all com­mu­ni­ties.

While Supt Hockin said that while this of­fence is be­ing com­mit­ted all over Chiltern and South Bucks, he said Che­sham is an area of con­cern.

He added: “It’s al­ways a chal­lenge be­cause we can only work with what’s re­ported, but we’ve had a num­ber of cases in Che­sham which have been re­ported to us and fol­lowed up.

“Che­sham is an area of con­cern and we’ve been ac­tive there, par­tic­u­larly around dis­rupt­ing the flow of drugs, be­cause we be­lieve some of­fend­ers use drugs, par­tic­u­larly cannabis, as a lure for young peo­ple in Che­sham.

“How­ever, it would be naive to be­lieve this is not hap­pen­ing else­where and that’s why we need a re­ally clear pic­ture by get­ting peo­ple to re­port their sus­pi­cions to us.”

Chiltern Dis­trict Coun­cil is also work­ing to tackle the prob­lem.

The coun­cil’s se­nior com­mu­nity safety of­fi­cer Katie Galvin is urg­ing par­ents to look out for signs of child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion, such as their chil­dren be­com­ing with­drawn, un­ex­plained money or gifts or talk of a new older boyfriend or girl­friend.

She added: “There are some spe­cific signs to look out for that at the same time could be put down to be­ing a hor­monal teenager.

“When you hear of child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion you hear of how it ends, but you don’t hear how it started. If par­ents look out for th­ese signs it’ll be re­ally help­ful.

“If peo­ple are aware of any signs then please re­port it.”

Peo­ple can re­port child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion by call­ing 101 or Crimestop­pers anony­mously on 0800 555 111.

CRACK­DOWN: Supt Steve Hockin (in­set) has said tack­ling child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is a pri­or­ity for po­lice in the area

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