Middlesbrough

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Child Sexual Exploitation is about power not race or religion, conference argues

Published October 24, 2014 by JS2

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Shahda Khan, Middlesbrough Council’s principal community cohesion officer

ASIAN communities are being used as scapegoats following a spate of high profile child sexual abuse scandals, it was claimed at a conference held by a North-East Islamic group.

Grooming and exploitation of children happens in every area and has done for centuries regardless of race or religion, speakers argued at the Sexual Grooming: Beyond the Headlines event organised by Islamic Diversity Centre.

For her presentation, Shahda Khan, Middlesbrough Council’s principal community cohesion officer contacted colleagues for their views from towns where Asian men have been jailed for child sexual exploitation (CSE) including Rotherham and Oxford as well as Middlesbrough.

“I was asked if Rotherham could happen here, yes it could happen here if it’s not already,” she said.

It’s really important that we stress that CSE is not confined to one community either in terms of perpetrators or victims. “In Rochdale, 95 per cent of men on the town’s sex offenders’ register were white,” she said.”

“We need to focus on the victims rather than the ethnicity of the perpetrator because that has got lost in all of this.

“Ninety per cent of CSE happens within the family home according to Simon Bailey, Chief Constable of Norfolk Police,” she said. “It’s a huge issue and we are just seeing a tiny, tiny tip of the iceberg.

Society’s attitude towards the sexualisation of women and girls needed to shift and more needed to be done to persuade minority groups to report sex crimes, she added.

Among the panel’s five speakers was frontline worker Alyas Karmani, of Street UK based in Bradford who thought the crux of issue was skewed ideas of masculinity.

“I did a piece of work with young men in Oxford after the police’s Operation Bullfinch who normalised levels of extreme sexual violence,” he said.

“Children being gang raped in every orifice by multiple males. We need to create new paradigms for these young men who think it’s cool. Their attitude is I bought her a £5 phone top up therefore I can use and abuse her.

“We have to think about early intervention, once a child goes through the level of abuse that we are talking about their lives are destroyed irrevocably.

“The model will be different in Middlesbrough from the one in Durham and the abusers will come from all different backgrounds. Sexual violence is not about race or religion, it’s about power and exploiting vulnerability.”

During the open question and answer session involving the 200-strong audience at Teesside University, one woman stood up to reveal that she had been sexually exploited.

“I was sexually abused by my stepfather when I was seven, I was raped at 28 and sexually assaulted at 41, but I am a survivor,” said the woman who pressed charges against her last attacker who was convicted.

“Everything that everybody has said is spot on. We need to challenge and we need to change male perceptions and female perceptions, not just shut the door and ignore it. We have to come together as a community because if we do not nothing will change.”

Lucy Richardson

Schools target child sexual exploitation in Middlesbrough

Published October 17, 2014 by JS2

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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.”

North-East paedophile forced children around world to make sex films

Published August 3, 2013 by JS2

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A PERVERT’S sickening collection of home-made sex films involving children was found after one of his victims alerted police thousands of miles away from his home.

Officers in Tasmania were able to trace paedophile Robert Hunter through his sleazy computer use, and tipped off colleagues in the UK who raided his home in Middlesbrough.

The extent and depravity of his online activities is said to have shocked the most experienced detectives and could result in an extended prison sentence for public protection.

Hunter, 35, will be sentenced when he appears at TeessideCrown Court next month. He was remanded in custody yesterday (Friday, August 2) after admitting a string of serious charges.

It emerged during the hearing that Hunter contacted girls as young as 11 all over the world and encouraged them to film themselves in sexual acts so he could watch on a webcam.

He used a video he obtained of a naked teenage boy – claiming it was him – to persuade the youngsters.

Although ten girls appear on the charges he has admitted, Hunter had made online contact with hundreds of others in the Far East, Europe, Australia and in this country.

When his victims had second thoughts about doing what he instructed, he threatened to tell their relatives what they had been up to, prosecutor Richard Bennett said.

After police raided his home in December 2011, they found a folder on his computer called “me” where he had created false identities such as Josh, Joshua and Justin.

More than 800 films and stills taken from them were discovered on the machine, said Mr Bennett. None of the images he had amassed had been downloaded from the internet.

“It has been a fairly involved case and there are a number of disturbing aspects above and beyond the number of complainants,” the prosecutor told Judge Howard Crowson.

Mr Bennett said he will be seeking a sentencing under ‘dangerousness’ provisions, and Judge Crowson said: “There is no doubt where Mr Hunter is going to be spending his time.”

The judge described Hunter’s crimes, which were carried out between 2009 and 2011, as “persistent” and told him: “Obviously, you should expect a long prison sentence.”

Hunter, of Brough Court, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to 15 charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and 14 of making indecent photos of children.

 

The Northern Echo

Paedophile jailed for four-and-a-half-years

Published May 14, 2013 by JS2

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A PAEDOPHILE who got away with his crimes for more than four decades was behind bars last night after one of his victims bravely went to the police to tell of her abuse.

The woman was working in a shop on Teesside when Barry Rock walked in and she instantly recognised the balding pervert.

Now 75, the former bus driver visited the shop on four consecutive days – which prompted his victim to speak to health care professionals and then Cleveland Police.

Rock was arrested and questioned and it later emerged that he had abused another child around the same time, prosecutor Harry Hadfield told Teesside Crown Court.

He was yesterday (Monday, May 13) jailed for four-and-half years and put on the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life after pleading guilty to 17 charges of indecent assault.

The judge, Recorder Julian Goose, QC, also banned him from working with children after hearing in impact statements how he had ruined the lives of his two victims.

One blamed the abuse for ruining her marriage and work life, and said: “I have no injuries, cuts or grazes but the mental scars I am left with are harder to heal.”

She added: “I am angry I have never felt what ordinary is. I don’t know how my life would have been . . . reporting it to the police was harrowing.”

The other said: “I have never come to terms with what has happened and been able to deal with it. I am angry I can’t talk about my feelings, even with those close.”

Rock, of Barrington Crescent, Middlesbrough, showed no emotion as details of the impact of his abuse were revealed in court.

His lawyer, Robert Mochrie, told Mr Recorder Goose that he has early onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, and added: “He struggles to remember these incidents.”

Mr Mochrie said: “He is a man of hitherto good character, he is a man of 75 years of age, and a significant period of time has elapsed since the offences.

“There is no suggestion further offences have been committed between then and now . . . he is mentally fragile to say the least and will struggle in custody.

 

by Niel Hunter