SEX offences against children have increased in the last four years, figures have revealed.
Last year there were 268 sex crimes committed against children, up from 192 in 2011.
It is important that young people involved in CSE recognise the fact that they are being exploited and have the confidence to come forward to police or another of our partners and report itPolice spokeswoman
Already this year there have been 236 crimes, including sexual activity and rape.
And since 2013 there has been a slight increase in children taken into custody in Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport for sex crimes against children.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal:
n 2010: 270 sex crimes against children with 22 youths taken into custody in the Portsmouth area.
n 2011: 192 crimes, with 14 youths in custody.
n 2012: 199 crimes, with 15 youths in custody.
n 2013: 242 crimes, with nine youths in custody.
n 2014: 268 crimes, with 13 youths in custody.
n 2015: 236 crimes, with 14 youths in custody.
Police say that a person taken into custody locally does not mean the crime was committed in the same area.
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is Hampshire Constabulary’s force priority and all officers and staff are aware of the signs.
‘We have a specific team dedicated to tackling CSE, working to identify offenders and safeguard victims.’
She added specialist officers are trained to interview victims of CSE.
It comes as a major scheme was launched in Portsmouth to tackle the problem.
The Guardian Angels project started on July 31 and sees police and other agencies patrol in the city at night.
Six patrols have taken place with around 300 people spoken to.
Workers from Portsmouth City Council’s children’s services, housing, the charity Barnardo’s, Catch 22 and the Youth Offending Team visited hotspots in the city.
‘It is important that young people involved in CSE recognise the fact that they are being exploited and have the confidence to come forward to police or another of our partners and report it,’ the police spokeswoman added.
Police are working with education professionals and those in the licensing trade to tackle CSE. For more, see hampshire.police.uk