Dozens Of Modern Slavery Cases In Stoke, Children Exploited Too
Data from Staffordshire Police demonstrated a harrowing increase in the number of modern slavery cases in Stoke, as well as new child exploitation cases.
Instances of modern slavery rose from five to 29 annually between 2014 and 2018 in Stoke on Trent.
Over the same four year time period, abuse of children through sexual exploitation rose from two to 19 cases annually.
There were another nine cases of child abuse through sexual exploitation in 2019, and another 15 cases of modern slavery in 2019.
The findings, which were made by media literacy charity The Student View, came from a Freedom of Information report from Staffordshire Police.
Over the five year period, there were 28 instances of evidential difficulties, and in 21 instances, victims did not want to proceed with charges. No suspect was identified in 32 cases.
Only three cases of a total of 132 across both categories were charged; one in 2015 and two in 2016. No charges were brought about for these offences in 2017, 2018 or 2019, despite 105 of the 132 crimes happening over these three years.
Detective Chief Inspector Nicki Furlong, of Staffordshire Police’s Specialist Investigations Department, said: “Whilst we fully understand that the report of increases is a very emotive subject, I would reinforce the message that any member of the public who has information about an individual who could be a risk to children should report the matter directly to the police. This enables us to investigate the concerns fully, safeguard children and bring offenders to justice.
“We work closely with partner agencies in a co-ordinated response to ensure that any child at risk can be appropriately safeguarded.
“Staffordshire Police has both a dedicated online child sexual exploitation (CSE) investigation team – Operation Safenet – which forms a larger Child Protection and Exploitation Team that deals with a variety of concerns including grooming, often referred to as ‘on street’ grooming, or CSE.
“Our teams are made up of experienced and specially-trained detectives who are committed to both dealing with issues referred to them and also developing, proactively, methods to disrupt and identify those who would seek to sexually exploit or abuse children.”