Commuters and young people in Wolverhampton will be encouraged to get to know the signs of grooming and child sexual exploitation (CSE) during a week of action.

Officers from the City of Wolverhampton Council, along with regional CSE leads, will be out and about at Wolverhampton's bus and railway stations next week raising awareness of this horrific, hidden crime - and the signs people need to be aware of.

They will be at Wolverhampton bus station on Wednesday and Thursday, 22 and 23 February, from 10am to 4pm, and at the railway station on Wednesday 22 February from 10am to 12pm.

The week of action taking place across the West Midlands is the latest event organised by the regional See Me, Hear Me campaign, backed by the City of Wolverhampton Council, which sees the voluntary sector, councils and police working together to spread the awareness message.

Fully endorsed and supported by British Transport Police, there will also be posters in bus and train stations, Metro tram stops and on buses travelling around the region, while a digital media campaign will run for a fortnight from tomorrow (Friday 17 February) to target young people and parents.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "We all have our role to play in tackling child sexual exploitation, and we want everyone to be aware of the signs of CSE.

"During this week of action we are raising awareness among those using public transport so they can be our eyes and ears as the move around the City 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.

"I would urge all young people, parents and carers to visit our campaign website Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank; to find out more and see what they can do to help protect our children and young people."

CSE is child abuse and involves perpetrators grooming their 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.

Councillor Kath Hartley, lead member for Putting Passengers First on the West Midland Combined Authority's transport delivery committee, added: "We fully support this regional campaign.

"Tens of thousands of people pass through the region's train and bus stations and tram stops each day, so there's plenty of opportunity to raise awareness among commuters and travellers about this horrific crime."

Anyone who is 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 call 999.

Childline also have counsellors available online at Type=links;Linkid=3772;Title=Childline;Target=_blank;.

People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation by visiting Type=links;Linkid=3771;Title=See me, hear me;Target=_blank;.

  • released: Thursday 16 February, 2017