“We thought she was going out with friends, but her attitude changed, her appearance started to change and she constantly had her mobile phone in her hand.”
Just one of the anonymous accounts from a hard hitting video released today, featuring local parents whose children have been victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE)
It forms part of the ongoing West Yorkshire Police campaign entitled ‘Know the Signs’ which highlights the various indicators of the crime.
The Force has worked in partnership with Leeds charity (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) Pace to record their experiences and raise awareness of the issues.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable, Ingrid Lee is leading the campaign and says their personal recollections should be of real benefit to others:
These parents have volunteered to share their experiences in the hope of making a difference to other families across West Yorkshire.
They have bravely re-lived some of the distressing and upsetting circumstances they faced and how they dealt with them at the time.
Evident in each of these accounts are specific signs which are indicative of child sexual exploitation.
For example, they describe instances of their child going missing, being secretive in their behaviour and spending time with older men.
Also highlighted is their involvement in drugs and confrontational characteristics which seemingly appeared out of the blue.
These first hand observations by local parents should give others the knowledge they need to recognise this crime and report it.
What is clear from this video is the heartache and torment attached to this crime and the importance of tackling it at the earliest possible opportunity.
We want those who are affected by these terrible offences to realise that they are not alone and that there is lots of help out there for them.
The Force continues to work side by side with local authorities, organisations and charities to tackle child sexual exploitation and we are absolutely committed to facing this head on.
If you have been subject to child sexual exploitation, know somebody who has, or have information about those involved in this crime, please contact the non emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Gill Gibbons, Chief Executive of Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation said:
So many families across Yorkshire are devastated by this horrific criminal activity and live with its consequences forever.
We fully support West Yorkshire Police’s campaign ‘Know the Signs’ as we know the one message parents whose children have been exploited would want to communicate to other families is to take a moment to learn what the signs are of possible exploitation, and, if your heart tells you something is wrong, seek advice and help.
The quicker a child is helped the more likely it will be that they can be protected from terrible risks.
To read more about the West Yorkshire Police Child Sexual Exploitation campaing, please click here: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse
To read more about Pace and the work they do, please click here: www.paceuk.info