Working together to enhance police responses to child sexual exploitation and related vulnerabilities
This week DI Ivon Beer, from the Metropolitan Police, who has been working with us on our Marginal Gains project as part of the CSE and Policing Knowledge Hub, shares his reflections in the run up to the Met police’s CSE conference to be held this Friday Working together to fight child sexual exploitation.
It’s the end of another long day and I’m back on a packed train, but at least at this time of day I get a seat. I’m tired. It’s been a busy day and I don’t know where the time goes.
I’m a DI on the Sexual Exploitation Team, part of the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. We’ve been planning our flagship Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) conference, which is this Friday, 17 March, in London, to mark National CSE Awareness Day the following day. The event will end a week of engagement activity across the Met focusing on CSE.
Through all our activity we’re trying to change the way ‘we’ the police, the public and other professionals understand better the damage that CSE does, and how we recognise the signs of it. We’re also looking at the consequences of not listening to young people and are constantly discussing how we try and influence the way we as police officers actually deal with young people when we come into contact with them.
So at the event we’ll hear directly from four young people who are part of a project I've been working with, The Marginal Gains Project, run by staff from the International Centre, researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire. They will tell us about the importance of taking those first small steps in order to make these changes. And for me that sums up what we’re all trying to do each day. We take small steps, we make marginal gains, because we are proud of what we do and we care about those we serve… we can and we do, make a difference in our own way.
The train empties a little and I can stretch my legs. The rain continues but my spirits are not dampened. Today was a good day because I spoke to Dame Esther Rantzen’s people and she’s supporting our event. I met with Dame Esther before Christmas and it’s great that she, the NSPCC and Childline are working with us and will be speaking at the event.
Dame Esther is still a big name to me personally, yet most victims of CSE are not old enough to know who she is. These same children and young people find themselves in exploitative situations and relationships. They receive gifts, money or affection, usually as a result of abuse. They’re often tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They can also be groomed online.
I’ll be getting off the train soon. I haven’t got far to walk but despite the lengthening days I try to remember the last time I saw my house in the daylight during the week. I know all the work we’re all doing across the Met to fight CSE, educate people and ultimately safeguard children is making a difference in London. Maybe it won’t change everything overnight but it’s about marginal gains right…?