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30 April 2015, 07:17
A new service to protect vulnerable children from sexual exploitation is being launched across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.
The Pan-Dorset Child Sexual Exploitation and Missing Children Service will be run by the children's charity Barnados who have expertise in dealing with vulnerable at risk young people. Its aim will be to identify and protect those children deemed at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and to help those who are victims of CSE.
Part of its remit will be to reduce the number of incidents of children and young people who run away from home or care. Child care experts are particularly concerned about the links between those children in care who go missing and their vulnerability to sexual and other types of exploitation.
Ann-Marie Dodds, Bournemouth Borough Council's Service Manager for Children's Services, said:
"We are pleased to be able to work with Barnados which has a proven track record of protecting children and young people and build on the good work that is already happening across Dorset.
"This pan-Dorset service will enable all of those partners concerned about the welfare of our vulnerable young people to work together to better protect them from those who would wish them harm and to help those who are victims of exploitation."
Hugh Sherriffe, Director of Barnardo's South West said:
"Child sexual exploitation is a vile crime which preys upon some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our communities. It doesn't just affect big cities, it affects every part of the UK and part of the problem is that it can remain hidden unless specific support is put in place.
"Therefore we welcome the development of this new service which will allow us to share our experience and expertise across Dorset. Working together, we can help these children to rebuild their shattered lives and bring their abusers to justice."
The service is being funded by Bournemouth Borough Council, Dorset County Council, the Borough of Poole, Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, Dorset Police and the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner.
Sara Tough, Director Children's Services at Dorset County Council, said:
"In Dorset we welcome the opportunity to work with Barnardo's, a charity that has been at the forefront of services for children at risk of CSE for many years. We expect their input to help us build on the work we have already put in place to make a real difference to vulnerable children in the County. Having a service across Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth will enable us to work with partner agencies to tackle this challenging issue."
Jan Thurgood, Strategic Director for the People Theme at Borough of Poole, said:
"This new service will contribute to our work with partners and help build on the work already taking place with young people in Poole. It is an example of how organisations working together can make a significant improvement in the quality of services for our local children and young people. We are very pleased to be working with Barnardo's who have such a strong track record in this specialist area."
The police, who are often tasked with finding those young people who go missing, have also welcomed the new service.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said:
"Child sexual exploitation is a complex and appalling crime and I welcome this joined up initiative to ensure that we provide all vulnerable children and young people with the same service across Dorset. This service hits some of the most vulnerable in our county and is another avenue for children to speak out, to have a voice, if they need to be listened too. Tackling this abhorrent crime is one of my highest priorities as PCC and I look forward to working with Bernardo's."