Children at risk from sex trade

IPSWICH: Children as young as 13 are among dozens in Ipswich at risk of being sexually exploited, a shocking new report has found.

IPSWICH: Children as young as 13 are among dozens in Ipswich at risk of being sexually exploited, a shocking new report has found.

Suffolk Constabulary's chief constable Simon Ash has revealed in a report that 43 children in the county have been identified as being abused or at a high and medium risk of sexual exploitation.

The majority of these children - both girls and boys - are at risk of being exploited at premises in Ipswich.

A couple of cases currently ongoing are classed as being high-risk with children involved in organised exploitation. And those working to help the children have admitted that they do not yet know the full extent of the abuse.

Helen Hepburn, development manager of the Suffolk Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation Strategy, said there is evidence of young girls being groomed by somebody who then tries to cut them off from their family and friends before they are offered to people wanting to pay for sex.

“It is very worrying, just one is worrying, but we are very confident that we can help them,” she said.

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“The evidence that we have got at the moment is that most of the children are in Ipswich.

“We do not know if it is increasing and do not know the full extent of the problem because of the nature of it. It is hidden. The children do not want you to know and the people doing it do not want you to know.”

The disturbing statistics were in a report to update Suffolk Police Authority on the Ipswich Street Prostitution Strategy which was set up following the murders of five women by Steve Wright in late 2006.

The report stated that kerb crawling and street prostitution is no longer a problem on the streets of Ipswich and that the majority of women involved in prostitution have been helped to change their lives.

But now agencies including Suffolk police and Suffolk County Council are concentrating efforts to help children at risk of exploitation.

Detective superintendent Alan Caton from Suffolk police, said: “Overall we are very pleased with the way the strategy is developing and we are not going to give up on it and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we can identify anybody being sexually exploited, particularly if it is linked to organised crime or people trafficking. If people are out there exploiting individuals then we will be after them.”

ONE of the key players in breaking the cycle of prostitution and drug abuse has been the Somebody's Daughter appeal.

The registered charity was launched by The Evening Star and Ipswich Borough Council following the murders of five women in late 2006.

The bodies of Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol, Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell were found in remote rural locations last December.

All had worked in the sex trade and all had drug habits.

The Somebody's Daughter cause, championed by trustees David Sheepshanks and Chris Mole MP, has a mandate of offering vulnerable young women a route out of vice and substance misuse.

Since its creation, generous readers and businesses have donated more than �70,000 towards the appeal.

Every penny will eventually be ploughed into the crusade to offer sex workers a brighter future.

And the good news is your generosity is already making a difference - just last month, two organisations were given a combined �29,000 to help benefit some of the most vulnerable women in Ipswich.

However, the appeal continues - and requires YOUR support.

Donations can be made online at www.eveningstar.co.uk, in person at Ipswich Borough Council's customer service centre in the Town Hall, by calling 01473 433777, or by sending a cheque, made payable to Somebody's Daughter Memorial Fund, to PO Box 772, Ipswich Borough Council, Grafton House, 15-17 Russell Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 2DE.

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