If You Don't Know, Don't Go - Campaign Highlights Party Tactic Used by Perpetrators of Child Sexual Exploitation
Wednesday, 25 September, 2019
With the new school year now underway, West Yorkshire Police and partners are warning young people to be wary of invites to free parties from older people who they know little about.
A tactic used by perpetrators of child sexual exploitation is to lure children to parties through social media and word of mouth, where they then ply them with drinks and drugs before pressuring them into sex. They may also bribe them into doing things they aren’t comfortable with in return for a lift home, as the ‘party’ is often held in an area that the young person is unfamiliar with.
Parents and guardians are also being urged to play their part by ensuring they know enough about the places their children are going to and, while not trying to stop them having fun, making sure they encourage them to take care and get in touch if they feel uncomfortable or get in trouble.
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “It’s an age old saying that nothing in life is for free, and we are asking teenagers to think about what someone is wanting in return when they are inviting them to parties with promises of booze and other free things.
“It is a sad fact that our officers have dealt with the aftermath of situations just like this where young girls and boys have been sexually assaulted and raped at what they thought were going to be fun parties and gatherings.
“Clearly, this kind of behaviour is despicable and, while young people themselves have a part to play in trying to avoid situations that would put them at risk, parents, guardians and other adults in the teenagers’ lives need to have honest conversations with them about their personal safety and who they are associating with.
“We also need people to report their concerns to us so that we can work to disrupt individuals and groups involved in this calculated exploitation of young people, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The campaign has been produced by West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership in consultation with young people across the county and is being supported by partners including the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and Kirklees, Bradford, Wakefield and Calderdale Safeguarding Children Partnerships.
Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership Chair Dr Mark Peel said: “Getting an invitation to a party is always exciting, but we know that some parties are organised by people who want to single out and abuse young people.
“It is important for us as an LSCP to ensure that young people are aware of some of the situations where they may come to harm and know how to protect themselves.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: “This campaign is specifically targeted at young people to raise awareness of some of the common tactics used by predators. It is an important message to get across and has been produced in direct consultation with young people themselves to ensure the right messages are communicated.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation has been, and continues to be, a central focus as set out in my Police and Crime Plan.
“Whilst there is a host of work on-going to stop the perpetrators of these awful crimes it is crucial that we explore all angles to ensure a truly joined up approach in helping to keep people safe with key campaigns and messages.”
Advice to young people
If you do accept an invitation to a party or gathering there are things that you need to do keep yourself safe:
- Make sure you know the location of where you’re going and whose party it is.
- Read the road signs if you accept a lift.
- Tell a trusted adult where you are going and who you’re going with.
- Tell someone what time you’re expected back.
- Make sure you have credit on your phone.
- Make sure your mobile battery is fully charged.
- Take enough money with you to get you home
If you are at a party or gathering and are having a good time, but someone asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable:
- Don’t go into a room alone with people that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Make an excuse, for example pretend you’re feeling ill and lock yourself in a room such as a bathroom or go outside, then send a text or make a phone call to a trusted adult to get someone to come and pick you up or call the police.
If you have been the victim of a sexual offence:
- You need to tell someone; whether that’s the police directly, a parent, guardian or other trusted adult.
- You will not be judged or blamed. West Yorkshire Police will put your needs as a victim at the heart of any investigation.
- There is professional support available, you do not need to suffer alone.
More information about the campaign is available at: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/party