On Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness (CSE) Day this year (18th March) the Police Service of Northern Ireland launched a campaign called ‘Make Safe’ to help our local hospitality sector spot the signs of CSE specific to their work place.
Local neighbourhood officers in Belfast have been busy since delivering a suite of training packages to the night time economy there and this activity is now expanding to the West. On Friday (8th April) local neighbourhood policing teams and the Police’s dedicated CSE Team will be out on the streets of Enniskillen speaking to local businesses and educating them on what to look out for that may indicate a child is at risk.
Examples of the signs staff are being asked to look for are:
- Adults befriending young people
- Adults who have been noted visiting with different young people
- Adults buying alcoholic drinks for someone expected to be under 18
- Picking young people up in your taxi and dropping them at a local hotel at odd times of the day/night
- Adult guests requesting a room that is isolated
- Adult guests accessing pornography in a room where you think a child may be present
Since September 2021 there has been a reduction of eight children at risk of CSE in the Western Trust encompassing Enniskillen. This is as a result of the proactive investigations of the CSE Team and multi-agency interventions with Health and Social Care. However, CSE hasn’t stopped with six children still currently known to the Police as being at risk in this area.
National and local evidence shows that these numbers may just be the tip of the iceberg. CSE can be present in hotels, pubs and other places licensed to sell alcohol and that taxis are used to transport young people who are then exploited. Therefore it is vital that training is provided to staff within these sectors to spot the signs and give them the confidence to report to Police if they feel something is not right.
This activity will continue across all other Districts in Northern Ireland over the next year.
Detective Sergeant Joanne Jackson said: “CSE takes on many different forms and it is everyone’s collective responsibility to help stop it. A common misconception is that it is just girls who are targeted, but boys can be exploited too.
“These children often don’t even realise they are at risk. The perpetrators of these crimes are incredibly manipulating – this is why it is so important to arm our hospitality sector with the knowledge of how to spot the signs and the confidence to report their suspicions to the Police.
“We have a dedicated team of officers who are trained to disrupt and bring offenders to justice. Those who seek to sexually exploit children in Northern Ireland should be fearful of the consequences of their actions.”
For further information see the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s website: which includes the briefing material being distributed to the hospitality sector.
If you’re concerned about a child’s welfare and think they may be being exploited, please report it to Police online, via 101 or 999 in an emergency.
You can also contact independent the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.
Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.
Children are referred to the CSE Team through a variety of sources both internally and externally. These children are then jointly assessed with Police CSE Detectives and Social Services under a CSE framework protocol during which all the available information is taken into consideration and a joint decision it taken as to whether the child is at risk of CSE or not.