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Reporting CSE: Who you might meet

Picking up the phone to talk about the sexual abuse might seem like an impossibly hard thing to do.

This might be even harder if you are a child or calling us about a young person you think is being abused.

To mark National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day this Saturday (18/3) we wanted to introduce some of the people you might talk to if you make that call.

These are professionals who are dedicated to supporting victims of CSE, their friends and family.

For further advice and support, visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org.

Protecting the most vulnerable from harm is the number one priority in Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens’ Police and Crime Plan. 

A significant part of this priority looks at taking a preventative approach to and raising awareness of child sexual exploitation, by challenging offenders and giving victims the confidence to report. 

The PCC is clear that tackling CSE is not the responsibility of a single organisation in isolation and that we must all work together closely as we all have a responsibility to safeguard our young people. 

Lou Dembicki

Name: PC 1803 Louise Dembicki

Rank / organisation: School Beat Manager – Bristol Met Academy, Fishponds.

At what point do you get involved with a CSE investigation? Being based in a school, means that I can become involved with a child victim of CSE at any point. Often concerns regarding the young person’s behaviour will be raised via the School’s Safeguarding Team.  The team include members of the Senior Leadership Team, Learning Mentors, Teaching Staff, Support Staff and me.

Concerns might include CSE risk indicators such as:

The child failing to attend school

A change in their attitude, appearance and friendship groups

Speaking of an older boy/girlfriend

Becoming isolated from members of their family

Going missing

Physical injuries

Being secretive about where they have been and with whom

Unexplained gifts or items of clothing

Once a concern is raised, members of the Safeguarding Team will speak to the child.  Often this will lead to a child protection disclosure by the young person.  In some cases CSE.  At this point I raise an investigation for CSE and continue to support the young person throughout the process and beyond.  The support is delivered using a multi-agency approach to ensure the best possible outcome for the young person involved.

I too work closely with parents who raise concerns about their children which too can lead to disclosures being made.

I am also involved in cases where a child has been identified as a victim of CSE and requires 1:1 support within the school environment.  This also includes providing information which might support the investigation i.e. details re. friendship groups, whether or not the young person’s behaviour is deteriorating, attendance during the school term, behaviour within the school environment etc.

What is your role within a CSE investigation & how do you support CSE victims?

Within the CSE investigation my role is to provide a safe and open environment for young people to make disclosures.  This includes providing opportunities for the young person to know that somebody is listening and that they are being believed.

Often victims fail to see that they are victim of CSE and the reality of this can hit them hard.  A victim will live in fear and are crippled by emotions of guilt, isolation and worry.  My role is to provide support to the young person in the form of mentoring and key working.  This includes engaging in extra curricular activities so that the victim is able to build a relationship of trust through a holistic approach.

I also attend strategy meetings with agencies, carry out Police Protection Orders, make home visits, attend safeguarding meetings and work alongside various agencies including Catch 22, Brook (sexual health), Health and Social Care.

What is the best advice you would give to someone thinking about reporting CSE?

This is a really difficult question to answer as every case is unique and a piece of advice for one might contradict advice given to another.  My universal advice would be not to take blame for what has happened.  It is not your fault.  If talking about the abuse is too hard write it down.  Believe that there is a way out and there are agencies and services who will listen and support you.  These include the Police, your education setting (if relevant), Crime Stoppers, Child Line, Barnardos or your GP.

Victoria Caple

Name:  Victoria Caple

Rank / organisation: Bristol Safeguarding Coordination Unit (SCU) Manager

At what point do you get involved with a CSE investigation?

Generally at a very early stage – even before it’s become an investigation.  Bristol Safeguarding Coordination Unit has close links with partner organisations such as Barnardo’s. These are usually the people who are told first, along with schools, who refer into First Response (who assess cases for Social Services).  All referrals are then passed onto my team, where we review what intelligence is already known about the victim and suspects and assess the risk.

What is your role within a CSE investigation?

Once the SCU have passed the case onto our Investigations teams, there is little further involvement.  However, we often have repeated referrals around similar locations, similar perpetrators and similar victims, and it is the SCU’s role to make that link, identify the common risks and escalate appropriately where necessary.

How do you support CSE victims?

By ensuring that the victim receives the best possible multi-agency support and safeguarding. We want to understand, support, advice and counsel.

What is the best advice you would give to someone thinking about reporting CSE? Just do it.  I know that it will be really difficult to tell someone you don’t know, but we have trained officers who will believe you and will help to stop this from happening and others in a similar situation.  Your life can change, and we can help you with that.  If you don’t feel like you can speak to Police initially, speak to organisations such as Barnados or NSPCC, who will help you and will support you through any criminal justice process.

Erika Winbow

Name: Erika Winbow

Rank / organisation: Temporary Detective Sergeant

At what point do you get involved with a CSE investigation?

During the early stages of the incident being reported and throughout the investigation into CSE.

What is your role within a CSE investigation?

Investigating officer - I would speak with the young person throughout the case.

How do you support CSE victims?

By listening to the young person carefully, having regular phone contact and face to face contact where possible.

What is the best advice you would give to someone thinking about reporting CSE?

Please report it even if you are unsure, the help and support is out there and we really want to help.

Larisa Hunt (1)

Name: Larisa Hunt

Rank / organisation: Detective Inspector -  Regional Organised Crime Unit

At what point do you get involved with a CSE investigation?

I don’t tend to get involved with individual investigations in my current role, although I have supervised many investigations in previous roles. I have a regional overview of what CSE happens in the South West region.

What is your role within a CSE investigation?

I work with police forces and the Regional Organised Crime Unit in the South West to make sure that we have good and robust processes in place to manage CSE investigations. I share good practice and work with partners to make sure we do the best we can to support victims and their families and to target offenders.

How do you support CSE victims?

I support victims by making sure that we listen to young people about how we can do this to the best of our ability, to put this in to practice and process and to share good practice in this area.

What is the best advice you would give to someone thinking about reporting CSE?

Any child can be exploited and we all have a role to play in safeguarding children. I would advise any professional to trust their instincts and to tell a supervisor or seek advice and support from their local authority, police or voluntary agency. For a young person, I would say please tell someone. It doesn’t matter who you tell, as long as you tell someone who can help you. I would also say that we know the police can be scary and that what might happen next could feel frightening, but we have specially trained officers who are very caring and will guide you through what we can and can’t do and you will have choices.

Clare Blessing

 

Name: Clare Blessing

Rank / organisation: Group Manager in Children and Families, Bristol City Council

At what point do you get involved with a CSE investigation?

Currently, I become involved in mapping issues within the North of Bristol in conjunction with the Consultant Social Workers about the children who may be at risk and then feeding this information into the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board.

What is your role within a CSE investigation?

My role would be to discuss with agencies such as the police, health professionals and other services about the risks to the young person and how these are managed. Good communication is important to ensure that information on the risks is shared with all professionals so that the young person, their family and the professional team involved can be kept informed.

How do you support CSE victims?

Working alongside the team around the young person to reduce the risks whilst also respecting the young person’s individuality and autonomy. Respecting their rights as an individuals but making sure that are aware of the risks that are around them and the services that are there to protect them.

What is the best advice you would give to someone thinking about reporting CSE?

Please feed any information in, even if you feel it’s a suspicion, because it can start to create a picture of a young person’s lived experience. It may not seem hugely significant to you, but in combination with other known facts may provide valuable evidence that can trigger a plan to make a young person’s life safer.