Child sexual exploitation claims rise as West Yorkshire Police pledge more cash for victims

The number of child sexual exploitation cases being reported to West Yorkshire Police is continuing to rise.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 5:18 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 5:22 pm
More money is being set aside to support victims.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson said that dealing with child abuse remains a top priority for the force and that more money will be pledged to support victims and probe allegations.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the region's Police and Crime Panel on Friday, two days after nine men from Bradford and Dewsbury were sentenced for abusing two young girls.

Thousands of pounds has been given to local charities by the PCC in recent years to support victims, and Mr Burns-Williamson said he made "no apologies" for dedicating plenty of focus to child sexual exploitation.

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PCC Mark Burns-Williamson has made tackling child sexual exploitation a major priority during his time in office.

He told the panel: "We know that the number of victims continues to increase from both non-recent, historic cases and current cases.

"We are continuing to invest in safeguarding, and also in investigation teams. You can't underestimate the amount of investigative work and resources that goes into those enquiries.

"Unfortunately we know that when children are exploited, they can end up being perpetrators themselves through other types of criminality, which is a really sad situation of course.

"If we can stop it happening in the first place, then all the better."

The PCC also said more support was being given to officers who have been affected by dealing with traumatic cases.

And he added that with each wave of offences, the force was learning lessons.

But he insisted that many improvements had been made to the way police handle such cases in recent years.

He said: "From the outcome of each case, we learn something from each one.

"Sometimes, because a lot these cases take a long time to go forward to court, I know there's a public perception that the police and other agencies haven't already started to address these issues. That's not the case.

"I think that's a timing issue. A lot of the delays in prosecution are due to pressures on the criminal justice system and on courts as well."