Manchester

Greater Manchester child sex abuse risk levels revealed

More than 400 children are considered at risk of sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, council figures have revealed.

The area's 10 councils list 436 children as being at risk, 165 of whom are subject to police investigations.

It is the first time such figures have been made available.

Stockport MP Ann Coffey said it was "only by gathering this information that we can map out the extent" of the issue.

Ms Coffey, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said collation would allow authorities to "develop the kind of interventions that we need to prevent these children being exploited".

'Safe and protected'

The publishing of the figures, which were obtained by BBC Radio Manchester, follows a number of convictions across the country, including that of nine men in May 2012 who ran a child sex exploitation ring in Rochdale.

The case led to a review of child protection services in the town.

Ms Coffey said there was now a "far greater awareness among agencies about child sex exploitation, but certainly what we were are still not managing to do is communicate with children at an earlier stage about what is happening to them".

She said that it was not just the job of agencies and local authorities to protect children, it was also the responsibility of the wider public.

"What happens to children is all our business and we all need to be responsible for ensuring that the children in our community are safe and protected," she said.

'Continually reviewed'

Alison Worsley of the children's charity Barnardo's said it was "hard to get these figures and understand this problem" as it was often "hidden".

"Strange as it may seem, young people may not even realise that they are being exploited," she said.

She added that the charity welcomed the figures and the work that Greater Manchester Police was doing in "actively looking to prevent this problem".

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley said the issue had become one of the force's "top priorities, reflected in the multi-agency teams now in place in Rochdale, Manchester, Salford, Tameside, Stockport and Oldham".

She said the success of the teams in those areas meant the force was "planning to roll them out" across the rest of Greater Manchester.

She added that while there were 165 young people considered at direct risk, all the cases were "continually reviewed and any that meet the police threshold for a potential criminal investigation will be picked up by detectives".

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