In the Media

Actress teams up with the police service to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation

PUBLISHED October 29, 2012

The Association of Chief Police Offices (ACPO) and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has teamed up with Shona McGarty, the BBC 'EastEnders' actress who plays the character 'Whitney', to create the new film, which is available from today at and on CEOP's You Tube channel

The 20 minute film, made with the help of Asset TV and Siyonatech, uses a storyline of 'Whitney' to explore how children and young people can be made vulnerable to grooming and sexual abuse, highlighting the grooming and manipulation techniques used by abusers.

Funded by the NPIA, the film was created in response to one of the recommendations made by the 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' report. The report, by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) focuses on group-associated child sexual abuse, which has also been called 'street grooming' in media reporting of high profile prosecutions[1]. The Office of the Children's Commissioner in England is currently undertaking a two-year study on 'Group and Gang Associated Child Sexual Abuse' which is due to report next month on their interim findings.

Peter Davies, ACPO lead for Child Protection and Chief Executive of the CEOP said:

"Investigating child abuse cases can be very complex. With group-associated sexual abuse there can be major challenges faced by agencies in identifying child victims and gaining their trust in order to help them to build successful cases against offenders.

"Breaking down any real or perceived barriers to reporting is vital. We need child victims to feel confident that when they do report or come to the attention of the authorities, they will be believed and the appropriate steps taken to protect them.

"By making this film available on the internet we hope to not only reach the thousands of police officers who can potentially come across this kind of sexual abuse but also the thousands of other professionals who work in child protection."

Assistant Chief Constable David Peacock, Service Director at the NPIA, said:

""Front line police officers can sometimes be the first people to identify vulnerable children who are at risk of being sexually exploited. This short awareness film will enable officers to spot the warning signs early on and work with authorities to intervene quicker to protect these children.

"The video will also add to our existing suite of training programmes in public protection that we have developed for policing."

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