CC Bailey 180A national centre of expertise to improve the police response to child sexual exploitation (CSE) and related vulnerabilities is to be established at the University of Bedfordshire in partnership with the police.

The College of Policing has announced the University has been successful in a bid for over £500,000 from the Police Knowledge Fund to establish a hub of expertise on child-centred police responses to young people at risk of or experiencing CSE.

Dr Helen Beckett, Joint Director, The International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking at the University said: “We welcome this opportunity to work further with the police and to link our world leading research into CSE to the practice taking place out in the field.

“This is a critical time to invest in this issue with serious examples of failures to safeguard young people embedded in the public consciousness and with CSE now identified as the sixth national strategic threat.”

The establishment of a centre of expertise will allow sustainable collaborative working, at both national and regional levels, between the police and academia. It will seek to ensure there will be a research-informed, enhanced police response to young people affected by CSE, other forms of child sexual abuse (CSA) and related vulnerabilities.

The University will work with the National Policing Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigation, and a network of regional police coordinators, as well as leading children’s charities and Public Health England, to improve both understanding and practice of this issue on the frontline.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, National Policing Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigation (pictured) said: “Tackling the threat of child sexual exploitation is one of the police service greatest challenges and I am delighted that the University of Bedfordshire has been successful is securing funding from the Police Knowledge Fund.

“The creation of a hub of excellence will build on our already well established academic partnership and undoubtedly help to improve our response to the threat of CSE.”

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The University’s International Centre: Researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking is renowned for its research, teaching and learning on child sexual exploitation, child protection and related work.

The University was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize, the highest form of national recognition for universities in the UK, for its pioneering applied research in child sexual exploitation (CSE), influencing new safeguarding policy and practice.

Bill Rammell Vice Chancellor of Bedfordshire University added: “This news confirms the university as the leading research institution for CSE across the country and offers opportunity for future developments on a scale we have not yet achieved in the field.

“We welcome this opportunity to work with the police and other partner agencies to enhance the evidence base for safeguarding children from this horrendous crime.”

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