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Crackdown on sexual explotation in Blackburn helps 385 young women
11:00am Thursday 11th March 2010 in Keep Them Safe campaign
SOME 385 young women have been offered protection as part of a crackdown on sexual exploitation in Blackburn in less than two years, it has been revealed.
The Engage team, which aims to tackle men who groom young girls for sex, has also secured 63 charges against suspected offenders since its inception in March 2008.
Engage was launched in response to growing evidence of young girls being ‘groomed’ by older men and given drugs, alcohol and gifts in return for sex.
It was given a boost when the Lancashire Telegraph launched its Keep Them Safe campaign in conjunction with the team.
Now Brook, the Blackburn-based sexual health charity, has won a national award for its ‘innovative work’ with young people who have been sexually exploited.
The charity is part of the group approach to Engage, which includes Blackburn with Darwen Council social workers, police officers, the NHS and charities Lifeline, Barnardo’s and the Coalition for the Removal of Pimping.
The Engage team uses its members’ skills and expertise to track down offenders who groom children for sex while offering support and protection to young victims and their families.
Brook, based in Darwen Street, was awarded the Brook Innovation of the Year Award 2010.
Julie Wareing, chief executive of Brook Blackburn, said: “The Brook vision wants all children and young people to be supported to develop the self-confidence, skills and understanding they need to enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual lives, sexual health and emotional well-being.”
Nick McPartlan, Engage team manager, said: “Our task is to undo what the perpetrator has done, with prosecution being the icing on the cake.”
Entries gave a short presentation at the awards ceremony on Thursday, March 4, at the Emirates stadium, London, home of Arsenal Football Club.
After the presentations, the audience voted to choose the winning innovation, which was announced on the night.