Almost 50 children aged between 11 and 17 years old have been identified as potential victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE), latest figures from Northamptonshire Police have shown.
The force has launched a new CSE awareness campaign that is urging people across the county to be alert to the signs that a young person is at risk of sexual exploitation.
The new campaign, which will include radio adverts and billboards, aims to increase the amount of reporting and awareness of CSE in Northamptonshire.
Detective Inspector Richard Tompkins, who leads the multi-agency team that works to prevent CSE, said the number of young people now in contact with the force was up from 17 at the start of the year to 47.
Mr Tompkins said 45 of these children were girls and the majority were white British.
He said: “The victims come from a range of backgrounds and from across the county.
“As Northampton is the biggest town we do have a lot of cases there but Corby is under-represented.
“We are also trying to get more contact from the ethnic communities.”
Mr Tompkins said that the vast majority of the CSE cases in the county tended to involve individuals rather than gangs, as seen in other parts of the country.
He said: “A very large amount of the work relates to an older boyfriend in his 20s or 30s who is actively seeking an inappropriate relationship with someone under the age of consent.”
The RISE (Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation) team was launched in July 2013 as a partnership by Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire County Council and CAN (3rd Sector Organisation).
Northamptonshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Adam Simmonds, pledged an extra £1 million to help resource the unit last year.
The county force launched a 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.