‘Protecting our children’: Greater Manchester working together to end child sexual exploitation

Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd and Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable sign the Phoenix Charter

Image: Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd and Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable sign the Phoenix Charter

Greater Manchester’s political leaders have come together today (Friday 25 September) to demonstrate their continued commitment to tackling child sexual exploitation and bringing abusers to justice.

All ten local authority leaders have joined Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, and incoming Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, to sign a charter that describes how they will work together to deal with child sexual exploitation and protect children and young people.

Tony Lloyd said: “Today we’re making it loud and clear that we are absolutely committed to tackling the abhorrent sexual abuse and exploitation of our children and young people here in Greater Manchester.

“By working together and pooling resources, we can make a real difference; and I want every child in Greater Manchester to know that – no matter where they live – they can get the help and support they need if they are worried that they or a friend are at risk from sexual harm and abuse.”

Entitled Protecting Our Children, the charter further reinforces the work being done by Project Phoenix – Greater Manchester’s unique multi-agency response to tackling child sexual exploitation. It describes the Phoenix partnership’s promise to put young people and their families at the heart of its work.

The signing of the charter comes during a week of action by Project Phoenix, which has seen specialist child sexual exploitation teams out and about across Greater Manchester since Monday (21 September) to mark a year since the launch of the “It’s Not Okay” campaign. The theme for the week is “Know who your friends are”, and agencies across Greater Manchester have come together for a host of public events, training sessions and operational activity to raise awareness of ‘peer-on-peer’ exploitation (where children are sexually exploited by young people of a similar age to them), online safety, and ‘sexting’. Hundreds of young people were engaged with across Greater Manchester throughout the week, and the “It’s Not Okay” website saw a fivefold increase in traffic.

Thanks to the work of Project Phoenix and the “It’s Not Okay” campaign, public awareness of sexual exploitation has increased, and more people are coming forward to get help and support.