Northamptonshire Police is currently carrying out 28 investigations into suspected Child Exploitation (CSE) crimes, new figures have revealed.
The county force launched the campaign earlier this year in an attempt to improve public awareness of CSE and, since then, arrests have doubled from four in March to eight in June.
The number of live investigations being conducted by the specialist Reducing incidents of child sexual exploitation (RISE) team is now running at 28.
Referrals to the RISE team have also increased from 10 in March to 19 in June.
There were also 3,874 unique hits to the new Northampton Safeguarding Children’s Board (NSCB) website during the campaign period.
Assistant Chief Constable Ivan Balhatchet said: “We want to increase referrals and reports of CSE. CSE like all sexual offences is under reported and we need to give people confidence to report these crimes to use.
“We have invested in training and resources across the county but we are not being complacent. There is much more to do to prevent CSE, safeguard victims and tackle perpetrators.
“Child abuse has a devastating impact on the victim and we need to continue to raise awareness so people understand the signs of child abuse and report incidents to us. We cannot tolerate this appalling abuse of children and we need to all open our eyes to it.
“We need members of the public to be our eyes and ears and to let us know if they spot the signs of this terrible crime so that we can hunt down their abusers and bring them to justice - there is no greater priority for Northamptonshire Police.”
Northamptonshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds, said Child sexual exploitation is a major child protection issue across the UK and was a “local priority”.
He said: “CSE is often hidden from view with vulnerable young people groomed and then abused, leaving them traumatised and scarred for life.
“Victims need to be listened to and believed. Perpetrators need to be disrupted, prosecuted, and brought to justice for their actions and the force is dramatically improving its response to tackling this horrendous crime along with its partner agencies.
“Child sexual exploitation is the rape and abuse of children and we need to tackle it as just that and no less, which is why I placed £1 million into this area of work that will be ring-fenced to help support victims of crime, including those affected by child sexual exploitation.”