As part of our summer-long campaign to highlight the hidden demands on policing, we are urging residents to familiarise themselves with the potential signs of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
CSE is a form of sexual abuse where young people are sexually exploited in return for gifts, money, food, affection, housing, drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.
Often, the young person being exploited will not see themselves as a victim.
Detective Superintendent Deb Smith, Head of Public Protection at Wiltshire Police, said: "CSE is one of the biggest demands experienced by police forces around the country, but it's one of those areas that many people will not be aware of. This week, we are asking people within our communities to familiarise themselves with some of the most common signs that a young person is being exploited, so they can report it to us and we can take action.
"CSE can happen in many different forms and it can happen to anyone from all different backgrounds, and both boys and girls.
"We are continuing to work extremely closely with partner agencies, including local authorities and the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, to not just bring offenders to justice, but to provide support to victims.
"Help us tackle it and protect some of the most vulnerable people within our society by recognising the signs that someone is at risk."
What are some of the potential signs of CSE?
• Being involved in abusive relationships
• Being intimidated or fearful of certain people or situations
• Hanging out with groups of older people, anti-social groups or with other vulnerable peers
• Getting involved in gangs
• Having older boyfriends or girlfriends
• Spending time at places of concern, such as hotels or known brothels
• Not knowing where they are, because they have been moved around the country
• Go missing from home, care or education
• Having new items of clothing, phones etc, given as gifts by the offenders.
Angus MacPherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: "The role that Wiltshire Police and local partner agencies play in tackling Child Sexual Exploitation is crucial in the protection of our young people across the county.
"I recently spoke at the Circles South West Volunteers' Conference, which is a charity I awarded more than £78,000 to train volunteers to support sex offenders returning from prison to the community. I am proud to have enabled Circles South West to expand its service into Wiltshire and Swindon, and to have made a further grant of £10,000 in 2016-17.
"The dedicated volunteers' at Circles South West do a vital job in re-integrating sex offenders back into the community and, crucially, helping to steer them away from re-offending. Put simply, they do a brilliant job in protecting children from serious sexual harm".
If people are concerned that a child is at immediate risk of CSE they should ring Wiltshire Police on 999.
If the child is not at immediate risk but people still have concerns and have some details about the child, such as their name or address and they live in the Borough of Swindon, they should contact Swindon Borough Council's Family Contact Point during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) on 01793 466903 or send an email to FCP@swindon.gov.uk
If the child is not at immediate risk but people still have concerns and have some details about the child, such as their name or address and they live in Wiltshire and not in the Borough of Swindon, they should call the Wiltshire Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0300 456 0108
Otherwise people should call Wiltshire Police's non-emergency line on 101 to report their concerns about possible sexual exploitation.