East Lancashire today claim to be winning the war on gang groomers.
As a child abuse Lawyer based in East Lancashire I would certainly agree that the “Engage” initiative set up in 2006 has been a huge success.
The towns of East Lancashire are remarkably similar to Rochdale and Rotherham, places that have both reached the headlines due to the appalling levels of child exploitation and sexual abuse inherent within the neighbourhood. It is these types of under privileged towns that are most at risk, with high rates of poverty mirroring the social characteristics of Rotherham and Rochdale. Similarities can also be identified in the ethnic structures of the communities.
Inevitably, the poverty of the area results in many vulnerable children; creating a large demographic of those at risk of sexual abuse. Where East Lancashire are succeeding and Rochdale and Rotherham failed is that the problem was recognised at an early stage.
In 2006, the local newspaper, The Lancashire Telegraph, backed a campaign called “keep them safe” which recognised that many under 16 year olds in East Lancashire had been groomed for sex by predominantly Asian men. As a result of this campaign the “Engage” initiative was set up. This was a multi agency task force with input from the Press, Social Services, the Police and Jack Straw, the local MP.
During the last 8 years the team have engaged with the local community. Police, Social Workers, Medical and Health Professionals, Charities and young people have all had input and their combined efforts have helped prevent towns such as Blackburn and Burnley following in the wake of Rochdale and Rotherham.
The Engage initiative is something that in my view should be carefully looked at by others Councils across the North of England where abuse is still rife.
That is not to say that abuse is not taking place. Within the last month I have had a new client who was groomed and abused in the Burnley area by different gangs of Asian males. What the Engage Team are achieving however is a minimisation of these incidents by tackling the problem in a proactive manner.
If you have been a victim of sexual abuse it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a solicitor that specialises in abuse claims. Here at Farleys our dedicated Abuse department have a wealth of experience acting for claimants in this area of law. To speak to myself or a member of my team please call 0845 050 1958 or email us today.