Teaming up to highlight the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet (1 Dec 2016)

West Yorkshire Police and the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner are joining with national charity The Marie Collins Foundation (MCF) to highlight the issue of child sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet. 

The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Dee Collins and the Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson will join the Chief Executive of the MCF, Tink Palmer, at the Safeguarding Children in the Digital World Conference on Thursday 1 December at the Force's Training and Development Centre. 

The aim of the conference, which will include speakers from various public, private and third sector organisations, is to focus on the digital world and how offenders are adapting their techniques to groom young people. 

Chief Constable Dee Collins, said: 

"There have been great technological advancements which mean that almost everyone lives their life on some form of mobile device but with those developments come more opportunities for criminals to cause harm. 

"We know that some criminals are particularly targeting children to groom and sexually exploit and take action to stop these paedophiles before they can cause harm. 

"But those looking to exploit children in this sickening way are constantly learning new techniques to try and avoid law enforcement agencies and so we must learn and develop our tactics to stop them. 

"It is vital therefore that we have get our approach right and work together to collectively make a difference. This conference will bring together key strategic decision makers to ensure we are doing everything we can to safeguard children." 

In addition to Chief Constable Collins, the PCC and Tink Palmer, key speakers at the conference will include 

Chief Constable Simon Bailey (the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigation and a MCF Trustee) 

Scott Bradley - Senior Manager, Group Public Policy for BT 

Anne McClaren - Head of Policy for Internet Matters - a not for profit organisation which aims to keep children safe in the digital world 

Laura Higgins - The Online Safety Operations Manager at South West Grid for Learning - a not for profit charitable trust providing a range of products and services for education 

Donald Findlater - Former Director of Research and Development at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation - a child protection charity which works across the UK to prevent child sexual abuse. 

The father of a West Yorkshire based child victim of a sexually related offence 

Piers Harrison of the Strategic Centre for Organised Crime based at the Home Office 

Andy Calver - A local Assistant Head Teacher (Bingley Grammar School) 

Mark Burns Williamson the West Yorkshire PCC said: 

"Technology and the digital world is all around us and whilst it provides us all with many exciting opportunities it also has risks attached and it is important we do our utmost to protect those who may be unknowingly vulnerable. 

"Protecting children is very clear focus within the new Police and Crime Plan, and for me as the PCC. This major event on 'Safeguarding Children in the Digital World' is a fantastic opportunity for us all to learn more, work together, and share ideas to better safeguard children and our communities. We already have strong partnerships and a robust response in West Yorkshire to preventing abuse and pursuing those who would seek to exploit others, but we must not and cannot be complacent. 

"As criminals and abusers look to exploit technology, we will be more committed to raising awareness as to how we can all use technology more safely, how we can strengthen our relationships to prevent harm and bring those who would abuse and exploit children to justice. Equally, supporting victims and survivors of abuse facilitated by on-line technology is very important in working with a range of partners in West Yorkshire and beyond." 

Chief Constable Collins added: 

"A lot of time and planning has gone into this conference to make sure the people who are needed and can help make a real difference are taking part and I am proud that, together with the PCC, we have brought everyone together to send a loud and clear message to those who look to harm children need to watch out." 

Tink Palmer is the CEO of the Marie Collins Foundation (MCF) - a unique charity dedicated to improving the professional response to children sexually abused and exploited online. She states "The MCF is delighted to be working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and the West Yorkshire Crime Commissioner to highlight the issues facing child victims of online sexual abuse, their families and the professionals mandated to help them. Over the past 15 years, the use of the internet and new technologies as a force for harm to children has grown exponentially. Such growth has required a new approach to safeguarding and protecting children. This conference aims to highlight some of the key issues relating to the online abuse of children, to offer alternative ideas for dealing with the problem and to enable professionals to network and learn from one another. No one professional body has the answers, it is only by working together collaboratively that we will be able to better protect children." 

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2019