Stoke & Staffordshire

Staffordshire Police doubles child exploitation team

Young person upset
Image caption Staffordshire Police also provides training to identify signs of abuse

A rise in reports of child sexual abuse has prompted Staffordshire Police to double the size of its Child Exploitation team.

The specially-trained team is now 14 strong, with two detective sergeants and 12 detective constables.

Stoke-on-Trent-based charity Savana took on 255 new cases of child sex abuse last year.

Det Sgt Mark Statton said: "We're increasing the size of our team to deal with those reports effectively."

Figures obtained by BBC Inside Out West Midlands show of the referrals to Savana, three quarters of the victims said they were abused by a family member and more than half said they did not report it to the police.

Justine Eardley-Dunn from the charity said: "Grooming and childhood sexual abuse is a bigger problem than people realise.

"Lots of people don't come forward so we know that for those we do know about there's a lot of people hidden behind that."

A regional child sexual abuse helpline run by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation said calls had nearly doubled in the past five years.

Figures show the helpline received 179 calls in 2012, up from 78 in 2007.

Both charities believe the rise is due to an increased awareness of support prompted by media reports.

'Tell-tale signs'

Steve Green, 47, from Stoke-on-Trent, was sexually abused from the age of three whilst living in children's homes.

He said: "You all seemed to grow up with it. You remember seeing the tell-tale signs from the other boys, the other girls... wet beds, crying."

Det Ch Insp Helen Jones from Staffordshire Police said: "We'd always like to see more offenders prosecuted of course, but sometimes we're talking about young people and vulnerable adults who find it very difficult to give their version of events."

Inside Out West Midlands is on BBC1 at 19:30 GMT.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites