Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Police Initiative Will Probe Sex Abuse Cases in Region

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Police Initiative Will Probe Sex Abuse Cases in Region

Article excerpt

Byline: Sophie Doughty Crime Reporter sophie.doughty@ncjmedia.co.uk

TWO dedicated teams of detectives will be put in place to investigate sexual exploitation on Tyneside.

Multi-agency teams, led by a Detective Inspector are to be set up in the north and south of the Northumbria Police area to safeguard vulnerable women and girls from abuse.

The move comes after the forces Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird managed to secure Home Office funding of PS1.3m to launch 'Project Sanctuary'.

Building on the ongoing work of 'Operation Sanctuary', investigating crimes of a sexual nature against vulnerable women and girls, the project will also tackle the wider issues of child exploitation, vulnerability and modern-day slavery.

The multi-agency teams will work from what has been described as 'community-based hubs' bringing together police and other organisations, including those from the voluntary sector. Each hub will also have dedicated social workers.

A Detective Inspector will manage each hub and lead a victim care team made up of a Detective Sergeant and Detective Constables. Further officers will work in an intelligence cell which will also include an analyst to gather and evaluate any information received.

The funding will also pay for a new role of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Social Work Co-ordinator.

Other coordinators will exist in the hub such as a missing from home coordinator to look at the joint investigation into missing children and vulnerable adults and a family support worker to manage support plans for vulnerable families working alongside social services.

Project Sanctuary will start in the north of the area with the creation of a Newcastle-based hub incorporating North Tyneside and Northumberland. A southern hub will follow and be based in Sunderland to include the Gateshead and South Tyneside areas.

Mrs Baird said: "Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults is a major element in helping to reduce the harm to those that need the most help in our communities.

"It's an absolute priority for me that those who find themselves caught up in a situation where they are being exploited and are fearful or too intimidated to do anything about it are identified and brought to safety and perpetrators are firmly dealt with. …

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