Up to 100 children in Bradford at risk of sexual grooming, experts warn

Professor Nick Frost, independent chairman of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board

Cllr Debbie Davies

Cllr Ralph Berry

Adult and child holding hands (9949635)

First published in News
Last updated
Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

UP to 100 children in the Bradford district are at risk of being groomed or sexually exploited, a new report has revealed.

And covert surveillance carried out between July 2013 and March this year has led to warnings being issued to 26 individuals who are suspected of harbouring children or acting in other ways that suggest they are involved in child sexually exploitation.

On Monday, the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed that 28 men in the Keighley area have also been arrested as part of a major police investigation into grooming in the area.

The annual report of Bradford Safeguarding Children's Board says the number of children in the district at medium or severe risk of sexual exploitation varies, but is usually between 60 and 100.

About ten per cent of these are male.

It also details how West Yorkshire Police and Bradford Council are working closely to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and gather information about risk of occurrence in locations such as takeaways, bars, shisha lounges and hotels.

"This activity, together with information about specific individuals, can lead to the use of formal warnings which are delivered to those suspected of harbouring children or acting in other ways that suggest they are involved in CSE," the report states.

Councillor Ralph Berry, executive for children's services on Bradford Council, said: "This is one of many techniques we use to try to deal with the issue. People get letters that say things like 'your car has been noticed driving around X or Y school - this is a warning sign of sexual exploitation.'

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

"It is one of the creative techniques we are taking to deal with the issue. We have to get the message out that we are watching these people." If behaviour escalates it will lead to arrests.

Other ways of tacking grooming in the past year have included workshops in schools and an education programme calling for people to "know the signs" of sexual exploitation.

Councillor Debbie Davies, the Conservative spokesman for children's services, said it was crucial that anyone working with children was on the look-out for any signs of exploitation.

She said: "If there is any unusual behaviour at schools or anywhere else, it needs to be looked into as soon as possible.

"It's very difficult because you can't just march in and take children away from their parents, but you have to look at who is in the house and who is related to who.

"It is very worrying and very serious, and I just hope that the children, when they are away from home, can speak to someone and be taken seriously."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Elsewhere, the board's annual report reveals that police received more than 310 reports of children going missing in the 12 month period, many of them vulnerable and in care.

Professor Nick Frost, the board's independent chairman, said much work had been done between April 2013 and March this year to tackle child safeguarding issues, including sexual abuse and grooming, building on the success of a specialist team, known as the Hub, which is based at Javelin House police station in Eccleshill.

"We have developed our complex work combating Child Sexual Exploitation - work which we are proud of as a model of multi-disciplinary working," he said.

"We have increasingly engaged with young people in developing our work. This is a continuous process, but one in which we can note some progress."

Prof Frost will stand down in the coming year after almost five years in the job. He was originally due to leave after three years, but agreed to stay on until this summer. The board is in the process of recruiting his successor.

The report will be discussed by the Council's children's services scrutiny committee which meets at Bradford City Hall next Tuesday at 4.30pm.

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