COMMUTORS and young people across the Dudley borough will be encouraged to spot the signs of grooming and child sexual exploitation during a week of action.
Officers from Dudley Council and regional child sexual exploitation chiefs will be out and about in transport hubs next week raising awareness of the horrific, hidden crime and the signs people need to be aware of.
The team will be at Dudley Bus Station on Wednesday February 22 and Halesowen Bus Station on Thursday February 23 from 10am to 3pm as part of the action week – the latest from the ‘see me, hear me’ campaign.
Councillor Ian Cooper, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We all have our role to play in tackling child sexual exploitation.
"During this week of action we are raising awareness among those using public transport so they can be our eyes and ears as they move around the borough and beyond.
“There will be information available on the signs to look out for to help people identify concerns, along with advice on how to get help.”
He said he wants “everyone to be aware of the signs of CSE” which sees perpetrators grooming victims in various ways such as in person, via mobiles or online to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them.
It can take place in many forms, whether through a seemingly consensual relationship, or a young person being forced to have sex in return for some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, gifts or even protection and affection.
Signs can include a young person with an older person who doesn’t appear to be a relative or carer, a younger person looking anxious, distressed or upset and truancy from school.
Detective Inspector Kay Wallace, West Midlands Regional CSE coordinator, said: “We all have a responsibility to protect vulnerable children and I would encourage people to be aware of the signs and be on the lookout for young people who might need help.”
There will also be posters in bus and train stations, Metro tram stops and on buses travelling around the region as part of the campaign.
Councillor Kath Hartley, of the West Midland Combined Authority’s transport delivery committee, said: “I hope passengers, young and old, will take the time to find out more about the signs to look out for and how to report concerns and play their part in helping to keep young people in the region safe.”
Anyone concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or in an emergency dial 999.