Police target those who prey on children

Children of all ages are being exploited
Children of all ages are being exploited

Child sex predators are the target of a new Police Scotland public information campaign.

The force is warning those who prey on children and exploit them for sex that it are “on to them”.

The campaign - which will run on social media and digital platforms over the next four weeks - alerts sexual predators that Police Scotland knows how they operate, where they operate and is aware of the methods used to exploit young people.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) happens to girls and boys in communities across Scotland.

Perpetrators exert power over children using violence, coercion and intimidation.

They will target young people offering them anything and everything from food, drugs and alcohol to gifts and even affection in return for sex. Any child or young person regardless of gender, ethnicity, background or sexual orientation may experience this form of child abuse.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: “Children across Scotland are being groomed for sex by predators. This kind of insidious behaviour can, at times, be hidden under a veil of seemingly innocent contact when in reality the child is being groomed to be sexually abused.

“Sexually exploiting a child will not be tolerated and our message to perpetrators is simple: we know how you operate, where you operate and the techniques you use. We’re on to you.

“It is vital we work together with partners and across communities to raise awareness of CSE, of recognising the signs and focusing on prevention.

“Tackling child abuse in all its forms, including CSE, is one Police Scotland’s highest priorities. Our children deserve nothing less.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Keeping children safe from abuse and exploitation is a key priority for the Scottish Government and we fully support the work of Police Scotland to tackle those who prey on children.

“Everyone has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in society by reporting signs of child exploitation and abuse so it can be stopped.”

Martin Crewem Barnardo’s Scotland Director said: “Barnardo’s Scotland is giving its full support to Police Scotland on this important campaign. We know more and more about how perpetrators operate and the grooming techniques they use so we are now able to target them more effectively.”

Anyone concerned about a child can call 101, social work or report it to Crimestoppers.