POLICE were today to explore better ways to protect children from sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
Hampshire police officers and staff were to hear from child protection experts at the force’s Netley headquarters at a seminar.
Detective Inspector John Geden from the force’s Public Protection Department, who has organised the event, said: ‘The ways in which criminals exploit children have changed significantly over the last few years. We often consider trafficked victims as those brought into the UK to be sexually exploited or forced into labour. However it’s a crime that also affects children and adults here in our own country.
‘In November last year the government produced its Tackling Child Exploitation plan for all agencies involved in safeguarding children. As a police force it’s important we stay up-to-date with how to best respond and ensure that all our officers know how to identify those most at risk.
‘For example, the children who may be regarded as a constant nuisance, perhaps once labelled as a persistent missing person or young, streetwise runaway, are in fact most likely to be the most vulnerable to this type of crime.’
The seminar was to be opened by Assistant Chief Constable David Pryde.
Guest speakers include experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre as well as the national working group and colleagues from other police forces who have led recent high-profile investigations.
Anyone concerned that someone is abusing or exploiting children, or fears a child is at risk should call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.