Pioneering plans to combat child sexual exploitation in South Tyneside have been hailed a success.
A targeted joint area probe – termed as a ‘deep dive investigation’ – into the response of health, council and police leaders over the issue highlighted a raft of encouraging initiatives that have been brought into force.
The report praised South Tyneside Council’s introduction of a scheme in which all taxi drivers have to undertake training over child sexual exploitation training as a condition of receiving their licence.
As a result, between 2014 and 2015, there was a 53% increase in the number of calls relating to child sex exploitation from taxi drivers to the police.
Efforts to boost awareness and understanding of the issue have been widened, with the inclusion of licensed premises, security staff, social landlords, fast food outlets and hotel staff in training schemes.
Initiatives have also been introduced at primary and secondary schools to bolster the ongoing campaign.
All schools include child sexual exploitation as part of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic curriculum and all secondary schools have hosted a production of ‘Chelsea’s Choice’, which has been adapted to reflect local issues.
A successful Home Office Innovation Fund bid has secured more than £3million, which has been invested in the development of an expanded Operation Sanctuary.
Operation Sanctuary is a police-led probe into sexual crimes against vulnerable women and girls.