Child protection officers in Leeds have warned there has been an increase in the number of young people at risk of sexual exploitation in the city – with the figure currently standing at over 350.
Leeds City Council’s executive board has included Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) as a priority in their Safer Leeds strategy in a bid to improve understanding and protect young people.
The strategy will be discussed by senior councillors at a meeting on Wednesday, September 23.
Speaking about the figures, Diane Hampshire, acting chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Child Sexual Exploitation is a complex issue and one which we take very seriously.
“Over the last three years we have increased our efforts to improve the way we deal with it to ensure we offer the best possible protection to children in Leeds.
“Improved reporting and increased awareness and understanding of CSE amongst the public as well as professionals have meant we are able to support many more young people.”
From 2013 to 2014, there were 263 cases of children at risk of CSE.
But new figures reveal this currently stands at 357 cases.
Diane added: “Here in Leeds we are well aware of what challenges we are facing and have been working hard over the past few years to combat CSE and to constantly improve how all agencies are working together to protect children and prosecute perpetrators.
“What remains paramount, for all agencies, is that the needs of the young people identified as at risk are at the forefront of our work, and that they are listened to and their views and concerns are acted upon.”
To report cases of CSE, call police on 101.