A renewed pledge against child sexual exploitation (CSE) has been made by new and returning West Sussex county councillors.
The pledge was originally signed by county councillors in October 2015 as there was cross-party support to ‘say something if you see something’.
The new cohort of representatives elected in May renewed their commitment to tackling CSE when they met on Friday (July 21).
Stephen Hillier, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Child sexual exploitation is a horrific crime which takes place in West Sussex and across the UK so it is essential that we continue to work together in our communities to increase our knowledge and awareness of what signs people should look out for.
“We’re unlikely to eradicate child sexual exploitation but we can become better at recognising the signs and responding to concerns. Sometimes all it takes is to listen to someone.
“The work that the county council has done over the last couple of years, alongside its partners, has led to significant improvements and with continued hard work we would hope that we can make West Sussex an even safer place for our young people.”
Last year the Safer West Sussex Partnership funded CSE awareness training for more than 650 public sector professionals, including schools, hoteliers, taxi drivers and other frontline staff.
The training offered by the partnership - made up of the local councils, police, health partners and the voluntary service – included understanding CSE and what people can do should they see something they believe could be harmful to a child or young person.
In addition, prevention activity has taken place in secondary schools and colleges.
More than 20,000 young people across West Sussex have now seen a performance of the CSE awareness play Chelsea’s Choice which aims to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to be able to protect themselves from this form of abuse.
The signs of CSE include skipping school, physical harming, change in usual behaviour, and unexplained gifts.
To report concerns about a child or information contact Sussex Police on 101.
Anonymous reports can be made via the National CSE helpline 116 000.
To find out more about CSE and the support available visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/CSE