Alex urges local businesses to help tackle child sexual exploitation

Hotels, shops, and restaurants in Stockton North can have a vital role to play in tackling and preventing child grooming, sexual exploitation and child trafficking, according to constituency MP, Alex Cunningham.

The NWG Network and The Children’s Society have developed the ‘Say Something if you See Something’ campaign pack supporting Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards to work with retail, leisure, transport and hospitality businesses to protect children in their communities from child sexual exploitation.

Alex is calling on local businesses to adopt the campaign pack and help tackle the problem of sexual exploitation, and has written to the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board to ensure that they are aware of this important toolkit.

Alex said:

“The Children’s Commissioner’s inquiry on child sexual exploitation in groups and gangs last year identified hotels, bed and breakfasts, shops and food outlets as key locations in which abuse takes place, and Labour Party colleagues have highlighted in Parliament the role that such premises have played in many cases.

“Recent high-profile cases of child sexual exploitation involving children being groomed or exploited highlight that we aren’t doing enough to protect our children and young people.

“However, the difficulties associated with tackling this situation are well known.  Too often, when police and local authorities suspect abuse is happening, they lack the tools and powers needed to stop it.  We must all, therefore, share responsibility for tackling this horrific crime in our communities.

“I have written to the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board in support of the ‘Say Something if you See Something’ campaign to encourage closer working with local businesses to make sure that such heinous crimes are prevented.”

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children Society, said: “Preventing child sexual exploitation is everybody’s business, not just the police or social workers. It is important to work with the hospitality industry, so that their employees are confident in recognising the signs of exploitation and can help keep vulnerable children safe.

Sheila Taylor MBE, Chief Executive of the NWG Network, said: “This campaign has been developed because of what the children and practitioners we work with tell us about their experience, and what we have seen again and again all over the country.  We will only be able to tackle child sexual exploitation and trafficking if we all work together.”