All posts tagged grooming

Paedophile raped and abused an eight-year-old girl FOUR TIMES in one day

Published February 17, 2015 by misty534

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Adrian Rennie denied rape, attempted rape and two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity but was convicted of all counts by a jury

A paedophile who raped and abused an eight-year-old girl FOUR TIMES in a single day has been jailed after she bravely wrote about it.

Adrian Rennie, 25, swore his young victim to secrecy but she eventually found the courage to tell a relative.

Now aged 12, the youngster then sent a letter to a judge describing the ‘unspeakable’ ordeal Rennie subjected her to.

A court heard vile Rennie went to her home and repeatedly abused her in the space of just one day.

Rennie, from York, denied rape, attempted rape and two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity but was convicted of all counts by a jury.

He was jailed for ten years at York Crown Court by Judge Stephen Ashurst who condemned him as a “very serious offender”.

He told Rennie: “What you did to her has caused her very considerable suffering. It is plainly going to take her a long time to get over these events.”

Detective Constable Theresa Wright said: “Adrian Rennie has quite rightly been jailed for committing some truly unspeakable actions against a young child.

“The court process is difficult for anybody to deal with but is particularly difficult for young children.

“The victim has shown great courage throughout the proceedings.”

The judge said the offences had devastated people close to Rennie who found it difficult to understand why someone they saw as a friend and supported had behaved as he did.

Susie Bever

Grooming and sexual abuse of young people not confined to ‘gritty northern towns,’ says charity

Published January 1, 2015 by misty534

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The grooming and sexual exploitation of children by adults happens in every town and city across the country and is “not confined to Asian gangs in gritty northern towns,” a charity said today.

Although the exact total number of young people at high risk of sexual abusers in the UK is not known – said to be more than the 16,000 quoted by a BBC report – the “global crime” is said to be likely to occur in every part of the country.

Fleur Strong, a spokeswoman for Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace), told The Independent: “Sexual exploitation of children has been going on for a very long time and it is a global crime so we will find it across the UK.

“We need to get past the idea that it only happens in gritty northern towns to certain types of girls by certain types of perpetrators.”

The claim is echoed by a report by the Children’s Commissioner, which shows that children from all locations, ages and socio-economic backgrounds have been victim to sexual abuse by adults.

Grooming is the term used to describe the acts of distancing a vulnerable child away from their parents and family with the use of gifts and attention with the intent to sexually abuse them. So-called legal highs are also used by predators to hook young people on them before potentially using harder drugs.

Ms Strong added that focusing solely on the cases of sexual abuse found in northern parts of the country ignores the possibility that it could happen to young people who do not fit the “cliché”.

In Rochdale, Greater Manchester, a gang of nine who were – all but one – British Pakistani men were sentenced in 2012 to a total of 77 years in prison for the conspiracy and act of raping under-age white girls in 2008 and 2009. More than a dozen more sex abuse rings by Asian men in northern England have been investigated since.

Rochdale, where nine men were jailed for abusing vulnerable teenage girls

Rochdale, where nine men were jailed for abusing vulnerable girlsMs Strong added: “If we just always try to make it look like a certain type of perpetrator it actually takes away from the fact that the crime is more subtle than that. We have got to be careful that it doesn’t become a cliché.

“There’s no question that there is a certain modus operandi that is going on, we shouldn’t challenge the facts but it is not the whole picture.

“We’re not seeing the victims that come from black and ethnic minority background, the boy victims, the white middle class girls. It’s a more complex crime than I think society realises.”

A child abduction order against an adult who a child insists is their boyfriend or girlfriend can be issued up until the age of 16 for young people who live in a family home, however they are extended to the age of 18 for those in the care of a local authority.


The grey area is cited by Pace as being one of the major block in the social services assisting parents with their concerns as Ms Strong claims that many teenagers are sexually abused right up until at least their early 20s.

Lamiat Sabin

170 child sexual exploitation referrals made in Doncaster this year

Published December 7, 2014 by misty534


A total of 170 referrals have been made to the town’s child sexual exploitation team since the beginning of the year, according to new figures released by Doncaster council.

In January this year, Doncaster set up a new multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) team, made up of social workers, police, health and child care experts, to do more together to tackle CSE.

The team has been focussing on three key areas of work – prevention of exploitation, protection of children and young people and pursuing offenders.

Since January 2014 and until last month, the number of referrals where concern was raised around CSE was 170.

Of these, 123 have been dealt with and closed, 47 are active and being investigated.

67 per cent of the referrals were originated by the police, 25 per cent by social care and the remaining eight percent from health, schools/colleges or other sources.

Both the police and agencies are disrupting and prosecuting perpetrators and using legal powers to prevent contact with potential victims through on the spot visits to properties and warning notices. This year there have been 15 criminal prosecutions for CSE offences.

The work of the CSE and that of the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB) is highlighted in a report to Doncaster Council’s Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel.

The panel will hear next week that there have also been more than 200 training and awareness raising sessions held for professionals, young people and their parents around CSE since the start of the year. This included advice on staying safe on line and identifying abusive relationships. Every secondary school in the borough now has a trained Child Exploitation and On-line Protection (CEOP) ambassador who has been trained by the CSE team.

Young people themselves are also being asked on how they would want to be involved in combatting CSE and raising awareness with their peers and the wider community.

This work forms part of DSCB’s three-year CSE strategy, published in 2013, which is regularly refreshed and part of an ‘assurance review’ by the independent chair of DCSB.

The ‘assurance review’ was undertaken in the light of recent national reports and the important recommendations from the Jay inquiry into CSE.

John Harris, DSCB’s independent chair, is author of the ‘assurance review’. He said the board regularly assessed its response to CSE as part of its safeguarding work to help keep children safe and well in the borough. It is a normal part of any safeguarding board’s work to do such a review when important reports are published.

“It is vital that we assess where we are at any given time and recent events in Rotherham have given us another opportunity to do so. We’ve held a mirror up to ourselves as a multi-agency board in how we are tackling child sexual exploitation in Doncaster,” said Mr Harris, who has been the independent chair since January 2014.

“It was right that we do this. Whilst we are not complacent and know there is more that needs to be done to tackle this serious issue, we know we have made real improvements in the last 12 months, including how we work together as a team of agencies and with the local community to ensure CSE is at the top of everyone’s agenda. The nature of this particular abuse is under-reported in Doncaster as indeed it is nationally but what is clear is that we must all remain vigilant. ”

DSCB has also set up a CSE and Missing Children group to focus on targeted work to tackle key areas such as working in the community, early identification, children in care and awareness raising.

Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel chair, Cllr Rachel Hodson, added: “Keeping our children safe and having effective measures to tackle child sexual exploitation are absolutely vital. This assurance review gives us a realistic health check on where we are as a borough, the improvements that have been made in 2014 and what we need to continue to focus on in the future.”

Boy abused by clairvoyant paedophile says: ”He robbed my childhood – I wanted to kill him”

Published December 7, 2014 by misty534

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Paul Bayliss was jailed at Warwick Crown Court for 14 years after being found guilty of five assaults on a minor and four rapes

A former bodybuilder turned clairvoyant who provided readings to young believers in the back of his car has been jailed for 14 years – for sexually abusing a child.

And now Paul Bayliss’ victim has broken his silence over the years of torment he endured at the hands of the sick spiritualist.

Counselling has failed to erase dark thoughts of revenge, the 26-year-old, who was preyed on by Bayliss as a young teenager, admitted.

“The only spirits he saw were in a bottle,” he said.

“I spent years thinking about killing him and, yes, I wish he was dead. I wanted to kill him myself.

“I hope that what he did to me is done to him in prison. He robbed me of my childhood, no doubt.

“Half of the stuff I’ve managed to get rid of, but there’s always going to be something there.

“It’s something that sticks with you, and still burns.”

At Warwick Crown Court, Midlands, last month, 56-year-old Bayliss was found guilty of five assaults on a minor and four rapes.

As well as the long jail stretch, the building company boss from Hednesford, Staffordshire, will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

Father-of-three Bayliss, who always maintained that a chronic back injury left him a sexual invalid, originally stood trial at Stafford Crown Court in March, but the jury failed to reach a decision.

At the Leamington Spa retrial last month, the jury deliberated for two days before finding Bayliss, who gave his name as Paul Bayliss-Sambrook in memory of his dead mother, guilty.

His victim, who has a child of his own, gave evidence in both court cases, but was shielded from coming face-to-face with his abuser.

“When I heard the verdict, I was over the moon, well and truly over the moon,” he said. “I had the biggest grin on my face. I was dreading the phone call saying he had been found not guilty.

“But he’ll never admit what he’s done. Who’s going to admit to being a paedophile?”

The victim was abused by Bayliss from the age of 13 until 16, initially trapped by the twisted medium’s pleas to rub his back.

“I’d try to push him off, but he was too strong. I was just a boy. He’d always warn me not to tell anyone.”

“I used to be a happy, chatty kid and ended up as someone with no confidence at all,” said Bayliss’ victim.

“The only time I was happy was when I was riding my bike.”

The constant abuse spawned anger management issues and the teenager was expelled from school for attacking a fellow pupil.

From there, he descended into cocaine and cannabis use and petty crime.

His young life has been studded with suicide attempts.

On one occasion, he claims, Bayliss even offered to help him end it all.

“I’d had enough and just wanted to die. Bayliss told me, ‘If you want to do it, do it right’. He put a rope round my neck and attached it to a gable. Afterwards I had the marks around my neck.”

The motor industry worker, from Lichfield, confessed: “I still think about sticking him in the back of a van and super-gluing him to a chair, ripping out his nails and teeth. Gouging out his eyes, cutting off his fingers.

“That is how much I hate the man.”

Since the age of 16, the victim, whose identity we are forbidden by law from revealing, has seen his tormentor only twice, the first time while driving.

“Everything went through my head. In the blink of an eye, I went from 40 mph to 140 mph,” he admitted.

“The second time I was walking through Lichfield town centre – and there he was.”

Haunted by his horrific childhood, the young man finally plucked up the courage to speak to the police two years ago.

The Staffordshire force, he maintains, have been brilliant, and he singled out Detective Constable John Wincott for praise.

The court cases have brought no closure, however.

“He’ll be out in seven years and that is nowhere near long enough,” he said. “I keep on wondering if there are more victims out there.

“I remember him as smug, and he was smug in court. To him, money was everything.

“Fourteen years seems like a long time, but he’s given me a lifetime of pain and anger.

“That sentence won’t come to an end.”

  • By Mike Lockley

‘Schools can’t cope with the tide of child sexual exploitation’

Published December 3, 2014 by misty534


We had all been waiting with dread for the Bristol child sexual exploitation case to end, as it did on Thursday. The police and local authority had briefed secondary headteachers twice in preparation this term. For those of us who’d been paying attention to the local press, we had read of a large number of men being arrested and charged nearly a year ago. Last week, 13 men were convicted of systematic sexual abuse, and 49 other individuals are now being investigated. But while we’ve been waiting for the trials to end, it has hardly been quiet in our own schools. Child sex exploitation on such a large, organised scale is shocking and rare, but we spend too many of our days working with devastating individual cases that don’t draw as much attention.

Every week another child protection case comes to light at my school. Sadly, the children do not always perceive themselves to be victims and therefore referrals to the police can sometimes lead nowhere. A year-9 girl returned from a few weeks’ absence and regaled her PSHE class with details about her work as a prostitute. When we expressed concern, she simply told us not to worry: no one slapped her around; she could look after herself.

A year-11 boy in similar circumstances reassured us that men couldn’t be prostitutes, he was just helping his mum with the rent and she knew all about it.

These are extreme examples but there are more children being exploited every day. Waiting for Operation Brooke, as it was called, to become public meant everyone would stop and point at Bristol for a while. But it is more complex than that.

We were fairly confident that none of our current or ex-students were among the victims in these cases, but in a city as small as Bristol the associations will ripple out to most schools. It could so easily have been one of our children: we can tick off the at-risk factors for so many. We have children who are looked-after and in care. Some of our students attend a pupil referral unit (PRU), where they meet other vulnerable children. Sometimes I need to exclude a student for a fixed period. Parents do not always keep them at home for these days, so where are they? I am very aware that when I make a decision about a child, such as sending them to a PRU, I may risk making that child even more vulnerable. But there are simply not enough alternatives on offer to me as a headteacher.

Of course, I always report every incident to the police if appropriate; we also report things to social services. But the thresholds for them to take action are high, and getting higher.

Every week I become aware that another of my students has made and distributed an indecent image of a child. Usually it’s a girl who has taken a naked photo of herself and sent it to someone she trusted. The now ex-boyfriend has shown his friends, or her friend has found it and put it on Facebook as a joke. Each time the fallout is incredible for these children, but the police are not really interested. And unless there was coercion involved, social services may not be able to help either.

I’ve sat in meetings with parents who have joked it off, said that it is “just one of those things”. I’ve even heard them say: “If Facebook had been around when I was 13, I’d have been doing the same.”

There is simply not enough support for my staff to help vulnerable children, let alone try to educate them. Referrals to Early Help can take weeks; a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) months; educational psychologists are overworked. If something happens and I need some immediate support – imagine a girl is raped, or a boy watches his mother beaten up – it can take for ever. We can offer sympathy, comfort, somewhere to cry, but we are not specialists and I worry that we might do more damage without realising it. It comes down to a few charities helping out as much as they can – and their caseloads are heaving. In Bristol, they will be even heavier now.

It’s far too easy to think that all victims are girls in care. But the behaviours they often demonstrate in care may have been learned in abusive families – sometimes they are being prostituted by their own relatives and therefore have an altered concept of what is right and wrong. More needs to be done, far earlier, to prevent such behaviours becoming normal.

Taking children away is usually too little too late, and you have to know that the abuse is there. Schools are a universal service, and sustained and robust education could do a great deal. A couple of lessons a year on respectful relationships will do nothing to counter what is happening at home.

Even before it finished, the Bristol trial had already created problems. Last week, one of my students reacted violently against a friend who had called her mum a name. The insult about her mother was a racial slur linked directly to Operation Brooke. Just over a year ago this girl’s mum had died; she’d been coerced into prostitution by a boyfriend who’d also introduced her to drugs. The end was tragic.

What was I to do about the girl’s outburst? I could internally exclude her – but she was in an internal exclusion when this happened. I called home and her grandmother came to get her. But within an hour, Grandma called to say she had run away to meet friends in town. I’ve no idea how to help this girl – she refuses counselling or any other support. Just as she was settling back into a new kind of normal, this happens.

She is not alone. The shocking headlines open old wounds for many children. There are children, and adults, all across Bristol who are reeling this week. Multiply that across Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford …

One of the greatest strains on us now in school is a breakdown in race relations. Some parts of Bristol are very multicultural, but other areas – like mine – are steadfastly white and working class. There are EDL flags in windows. Racist language is common, along with sexism and homophobia. We are on a constant crusade to develop inclusivity and tolerance and to combat ingrained rage.

Nearly 40% of our families have neither parent working; 15% have never worked; we have twice as many children on free school meals as those who pay. Most of our children have never been into the centre of Bristol, let alone been on a holiday. For many of these children, all of whose consciousness is post-2001, anyone different from them is a terrorist, an illegal immigrant, a job-stealer or a sex attacker. I have spent the last month redoubling our focus on combating racism in preparation for the Operation Brooke verdict.

The executive summary in the Rotherham inquiry identified some professionals not wanting to target Asian men as predators for fear of being racist; my own fear about the racist response to Operation Brooke has already been realised. It is perhaps this aspect that is hardest to deal with. The convicted men are, as a point of fact, of Somalian heritage. We know that does not mean that all Somalian men are sex offenders, but some of the children – and some of their parents – are struggling with this. One morning recently, while waiting for his bus to work, one of my teachers was spat at and called a “Paedo”. He doesn’t live that far from the school.

Our jobs are already extremely difficult. Every day we are dealing with smaller one-off cases and struggling to keep our heads above water. I don’t have enough staff; I don’t have enough money, or time, or options available to make a difference.

We need small off-site units that students can go to for both education and emotional or lifestyle support. I’d like more one-to-one mentors to work with children in school and at home. We need more access to different types of therapies because one size does not fit all. We need more family workers supporting children and parents from an earlier age.

Our communities are struggling and a case on this scale simply makes things harder for us all. I dread to think what else is out there.

The author is a headteacher in Bristol

Sexual abuse tore family apart

Published November 13, 2014 by misty534


THE mother of a 13-year-old sexual abuse grooming victim has said her family has been “ripped apart” by the events.

Ian Croston, 49, of Whiston, was last week found guilty of three charges of sexual activity with a child and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Croston groomed and abused the girl, with whom he exchanged more than 9,000 text messages between late 2012 and June 2013, including 433 on a single day.

The victim’s family applauded as Judge Thomas Teague, QC, gave his sentence after the three-day trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Croston, who was married, will also be on the sex offenders’ register for life, and is banned from having contact with any girl aged under 18.

The girl’s mother, 39, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “Nothing will turn back time and bring back my daughter’s childhood, but it’s good to know he won’t be on the streets for a long time.

“He was a family friend, someone we’d trusted. We didn’t have a clue what was going on.

“He seemed like a normal person, good with kids. He had taken us all in.

“It was when someone heard he’d texted my daughter late at night that we first got the feeling something was going on.”

After raising the alarm, police discovered that Croston had bombarded the schoolgirl with thousands of texts, as well as calls, during which they organised fishing trips and secret meetings at his mother’s graveside.

Her mother said: “Never in your wildest dreams would you think it could happen to your own daughter.

“They had been sending all these texts but had been deleting them to hide the evidence.”

She added: “It was horrendous when we found out what had been happening. As a parent, you want to protect your children so the guilt we felt was all consuming. You wonder why you didn’t see the signs.

“We won’t know what long-term effects this could have on her as it may not be until she’s older that it hits her. All we can do is our best to help her get through it.

“She is brave and has been amazing throughout the ordeal at court.”

She said: “It has ripped us apart as a family at times – a family being so close to being so distant; having to carry on at work with a smile, when really you are dying inside.”

A victim impact statement, which was given to the court but not read out, told how, following the abuse, she became “insular and depressed” and struggled at school, with other family members also affected by depression and other health problems.
by Paula Morris

Child Abuse Online: Sexual Exploitation Protection Requires Improved Policing

Published November 10, 2014 by misty534


BT and the Marie Collins Foundation believe there is a substantial lack of training and understanding of the affects of online sexual abuse and grooming of children, and are now working to rectify this.

The pair have launched Click: Path to Protection, an initiative to bring major updates and improvements to how frontline services deal with cases of child exploitation online.

All police forces in England and Wales are involved, along with the Crown Prosecution Service, social services and more.

Detective Superintendent Paul Sanford said online child abuse had been “a hidden issue in society for far too long,” and although this is now changing, the police admits it knows “we are only identifying a fraction of the abuse that is taking place. We all need to work together to lift the lid and ask the relevant questions. We must put the victims first.”

Recognising that the internet has made it easier for groomers to make contact with children, Sanford said the police’s response to online abuse “needs to keep up with modern technology, and victims need a response from all agencies which recognises unique nature of online abuse.”

Online abuse to be policed the same as offline

“Policing of online communities is now as important as policing of the streets, and it is now hard to differentiate between them…abuse on the web is as great an evil as abuse which occurs anywhere,” the Superintendent added.

Research conducted for BT and the Marie Collins Foundation found that 95% of frontline workers want training to support victims and families in online abuse cases. Click: Path to Protection will begin as a pilot scheme initially, comprising a set of nationally agreed policies, procedures and guidelines on how to deal with victims and their families. Although costs and investment figures have not been disclosed, the initiative will be funded entirely by BT.

The message from this week’s launch is that children need to be educated about the dangers of online communication from the age of nine, so that as socially active 12 to 14-year olds they can communicate online safely.

Preventing long-term psychology damage

Marie Collins, herself a victim of sexual abuse as a child 30 years ago, spoke at the launch to address the long-term psychological damage inflicted on the victims of child abuse; she said a major concern shared by victims is where images taken of them are, and who has seen them. Tackling the anxiety and depression this fear creates in victims is a central goal of the initiative.

Collins said: “I looked at myself as a bad person [for allowing explicit photos to be taken] and I didn’t want people to know what I’d done. That awful feeling affects the whole way you interact with others – your family and members of the opposite sex…it becomes so hard to form normal relationships and it causes anxiety and, in many cases, depression where people turn to drugs or alcohol to help deal with those feelings.”

Abysmally slow

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the family of a victim of online sexual abuse and grooming blamed the police, courts and social services for treating their son “like a naughty child” and slammed the response from frontline services as “abysmally slow.”

The family said the way cases like theirs are treated has now improved, but the message shared by everyone involved with the initiative is that frontline services have been slow to react and were heavy-handed in the recent past.

Although the initiative is about how to deal with victim’s in a sensitive manner, Tink Palmer, CEO of the Marie Collins Foundation, told IBTimes UK that education must also play a fundamental part in helping children stay safe online. Palmer believes that educating children about the dangers of the internet should begin as soon as possible, and that online communications should be viewed no differently to those the child engages with offline.

Alistar Charlton

Simeon Osen from Chigwell sentenced to five years 11 months at Harrow Crown Court

Published November 7, 2014 by misty534

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A paedophile who paid children in the Philippines to perform sex acts over the internet has been jailed for six years.

Simeon Osen, 53, from Chigwell, admitted 13 of 20 charges against him of procuring children for sex abroad during the same period on October 10.

He was sentenced to a total of five years and 11 months at Harrow Crown Court yesterday.

Osen is the former chief executive of Ronacrete, a concrete products company responsible for the top of the Shard.

He has been ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and has been given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

The Met’s Child Abuse, Exploitation and Sexual Abuse Command, began investigating Osen in 2013, following an allegation that he abused a 13-year old girl.

During the course of the investigation, Osen’s personal computers were examined and a quantity of images and movies of an indecent nature were found, including extreme pornography.

A further computer seized from his work premises in Harlow revealed over 41,000 messages via online video chat with persons in Manila, Philippines, during which Osen is directing the abuse of children as young as ten.

In addition to this, his computer contained screen shots of young girls with lines of video chat, between Paul Simon, the online name used by Osen and persons in the Philippines.
Between February and December 2012 Osen made 69 payments at a cost of nearly £6,000 to six people in the Philippines believed to be involved in child sexual exploitation.

He was charged on 20 different counts including arranging the commission of a child sex offence and making indecent photographs of a child.

Osen had been previously sentenced to an eight month suspended sentence last year after pleading guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 17.

Th sentence was referred to the Court of Appeal following a complaint it was too lenient, but Attorney General Dominic Grieve refused to intevene, saying proper guidelines were followed.

Detective Constable Rachel Snow, of Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: “On the surface Simeon Osen was a successful business man with a family, but in reality he was a paedophile who was abusing children.

“I hope his arrest, prosecution and imprisonment today serves as a warning to other sex offenders in the UK, who think they can get away with abusing children anywhere in the world.

“This investigation is a very good example of the lengths the police and other law enforcement agencies will go to in order to find and secure the evidence to convict you.
“I also hope this case gives victims of sexual abuse, who may not have previously reported their ordeal to the police, the confidence to come forward.”

Suspended sentence paedophile from Chigwell admits child sexual exploitation

Published October 22, 2014 by misty534


A paedophile who received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to sexual activity with a girl and possessing child pornography has now admitted 13 counts of arranging the trafficking of children for sex.

Simeon Osen, of Forest Lane in Chigwell, was sentenced to an eight month suspended sentence on October 7 last year after pleading guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 17, three counts of making indecent images of a child and two counts of possessing extreme pornography between September 2010 and February 2013.

The 53-year-old has now admitted 13 of 20 charges against him for procuring children for sex abroad during the same period.

Osen appeared at Harrow Crown Court on October 10 and entered his guilty plea.

He is due to appear at the same court on November 6 for sentencing.

Osen’s suspended sentence was referred to the Attorney General following a complaint it was too lenient.

But the sentence was upheld.

A spokesman for the Attorney General said at the time: “The Solicitor General considered that the judge applied the relevant sentencing guidelines and took account of all relevant factors.

“He does not consider that the Court of Appeal would interfere with the sentence and has decided not to refer it.”

Schools target child sexual exploitation in Middlesbrough

Published October 17, 2014 by misty534

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Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough

THE grooming and sexual exploitation of children in a North-East town hit the headlines recently. LUCY RICHARDSON discovers what is being done to protect youngsters at schools Middlesbrough to ensure it doesn’t become another Rotherham or Oxford.

ONCE upon a time, teachers were just expected to educate children on the three ‘R’s’, now they have to add relationships, rape and arrests to their heavy workload.

The House of Commons Select Committee report into Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and the response to localised grooming last year highlighted that teachers were key to identifying children at risk and potentially be able to stop children becoming victims of abuse.

At Acklam Grange in Middlesbrough, a model to tackle the issue head on has taken 12 years to develop. Youngsters aged 11 to 16 receive information, advice and training from Barnardo’s and the NSPCC and staff were trained to a high level to spot warning signs so alarm bells rang.

The secondary is part of a Big Lottery Funding bid which would enable the school to employ two non-teaching staff to offer pastoral support involving CSE through a ‘Headstart’ programme.

With 32 per cent of pupils from (Black, Minority, Ethnic) backgrounds the school has a diverse cultural mix with differing attitudes to what’s sexually acceptable. It also has children on its roll from Eastern European counties where it can be the norm for youngsters to have sex from 12 or 13-years-old.

It has forged leads with community leaders to educate and raise awareness as well as having a counsellor attached to the school. And it runs sessions on Female Genital Mutilation for some girls in their early teens, an age where they could be at risk of illegal circumcision.

The Integrated Youth Support Service was working with Prince Bishop, Ashdale and Acklam Grange Schools which could be rolled out to other secondaries. A group of sexually exploited girls was making a film about their experiences which will be shown in schools and youth centres.

Every secondary school in the town has a designated member of staff trained to pick up on the signs of CSE but the pro-active model developed by Acklam Grange was especially praised at a recent meeting of a council scrutiny panel.

Another of the steps it has taken involves police officers interviewing suspected victims of abuse in the safe school environment. The police said we cut four to six months off investigations because they did not need to take the time to build up relationships,” explained Acklam Grange assistant headteacher, Martin Burnett.

It is vital that we acknowledge that it is a problem. It is something that we need to make sure does not get any worse and that’s by raising awareness.”

“We have to be constantly aware that society is changing and we know these issues manifest themselves in school,” he added.

Evaluate Tees Valley is a charity delivering sex and relationship education in schools which has developed a new hour long session on grooming for exploitation called ‘sexploited’ which will be introduced at Key Stage Three from January.

Last academic year its project manager, Annalise Higgins, and her team worked with 5500 children which is set to increase in 2014/15.

“We help people understand what the process of grooming is, on the surface it looks like a really healthy relationship.

“Even if they are not certain, even if they are just a little bit concerned we say “It’s fine, better to speak to someone about it”.

We all want to be accepted and we all want to be loved so when somebody comes into your life and says “you’re beautiful, you are gorgeous, you’re amazing” and buys you presents so he can always reach you. It’s easy to be taken in.

“Then it’s the exchanging of favours – I’ve done this for you now you have to do something for me, it’s very calculated. It could be the people around who pick up on what’s going on. We want to help them keep control of their lives or regain control if it has been lost.

“We give them permission to talk about it. Teachers are, understandably not particularly keen to talk about sex education when they see them every day but it means that afterwards they can go to a member of staff they trust and have an important one-to-one conversation.

“We want to create a school culture of open dialogue over these taboo subjects so they are not taboo anymore,” added Annalise who praised the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) website “Think u Know” website which educates about internet for children as young as five.

At the moment a couple of slides in a presentation for year nines in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar, Hartlepool and Darlington already include a couple of slides on grooming.

“You can see a lightbulb moment on the faces of some of the teenagers in the room. They go a little bit grey and you know there will be a change now in something they do that will keep them safe.”