POLICE are currently investigating 249 crimes across the district that have links to child sexual exploitation.

The latest figures from West Yorkshire Police show that these crimes involve 222 victims, and that 284 suspects have been identified.

Police say that some of the ongoing investigations are into historic cases of child sex abuse.

The number is up from 212 crimes being investigated just two months ago, when police were looking at 180 alleged victims and 251 suspects.

In August, the Keighley News reported that the Bradford multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation hub, made up of representatives from the police, council, local charities and other organisations, had seen 713 referrals between March 2015 and March 2016 - a 65 per cent rise on the previous year.

At the time police said the rise showed CSE was being recognised much faster.

The new figures come after a serious case review found a “catalogue” of missed opportunities to protect a young victim of a Keighley grooming gang.

The independent review, published last week, found the victim, just 13 and 14 at the time of the abuse in 2011 and 2012, could have been protected sooner. After it’s publication, police and social services apologised.

The hub was set up directly in response to the crimes to make it easier for different organisations to work together to tackle CSE.

David Niven, chairman of the district’s independent safeguarding children board, said the difference between the safeguarding processes now and what had been in place in 2011 was like “chalk and cheese”.

Michael Jameson, strategic director of children’s services at Bradford Council, said grooming “sadly” continues, but that the council, police and other services were now much better at dealing with it.

Mr Jameson, said: “Abuse happens at different levels and I think the mistake agencies could make is they just focus on one aspect of abuse or sexual abuse.

“Without doubt there is an issue and has been an issue about urban grooming in many cities in the UK.

“It’s not peculiar to just Bradford, you could think of Oxfordshire, Rotherham, Rochdale and Blackburn just to name a few.

“But there has also been abuse in the Catholic Church, the Church of England, the BBC and more recently the whole spotlight on footballers. It just shows it is in every part of society and also what we can’t forget is a lot of abuse takes place in the home.”

When asked whether the hub had helped stamp out street grooming gangs, he replied: “There is increased vigilance so the police, local authorities and councils work extremely closely together in disrupting any type of crime and activity.

“We do that, we have got strong networks around that but as with all types of abuse, we have got to be forever vigilant and I would never say any type of abuse has been stamped out. It hasn’t.

“It happens, and sadly will continue to happen but we are getting better at responding and working with different communities.”