Police officers and staff across Hertfordshire are lending a helping hand to the National Child Exploitation Awareness Day this week by writing pledges on their palms to raise awareness.
National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, on Thursday March 18, is highlighted by the National Working Group’s (NWG’s) Helping Hands campaign, which aims to spread the word on the signs to look out for and how to report it.
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Halo team, made up of police officers and staff dedicated to detecting, disrupting and preventing child exploitation, are leading on the force’s support for the campaign by posting photos of their ‘Helping Hands’ on social media, with the hashtags #CEADay21 and #HelpingHands.
The team is led by Detective Inspector Gemma Badat, who is supported by two Detective Sergeants, four Detective Constables, four Police Constables and a Child Exploitation Disruption Co-ordinator.
The co-ordinator works with partner organisations in the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Referrals Hub to deliver a multi-agency response to tackling child sexual exploitation in Hertfordshire.
Detective Inspector Badat said: “Child exploitation is a very challenging crime to investigate as it often goes under-reported due to vulnerable victims not seeing themselves as such, because the offenders have groomed them into believing they are in a serious relationship.
“This means our investigations can often be protracted and require perseverance in building a trusted rapport with a vulnerable young person so we can safeguard them from further harm. Despite the distressing situations we come across, our work also has the capacity to be extremely rewarding. We are dedicated to safeguarding children and young people, as well as disrupting and bringing to justice the perpetrators of child exploitation.
“That is why it is so important for us to come together with colleagues and partners on National Child Exploitation Awareness Day, and help give young people a voice when they may feel unable to speak.”