Sussex Police record 80 child sexual exploitation crimes a month in 2019


“Child exploitation is happening in Sussex and is more prevalent than people may think.”

This is the message from Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne on National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day (March 18th).

Figures have been released today demonstrating a 19% increase in these crimes over the last 12 months from 823 in 2018 to 977 in 2019 (+154).

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Richards said: “Child exploitation remains a top priority for Sussex Police and we are pleased to pledge our support to help stop CSE on National CSE Awareness Day.

“Child exploitation is happening here in Sussex. Exploitation can be more than sexual and can include criminal exploitation, county lines, trafficking and modern slavery. It involves an individual taking advantage of the age and vulnerability of children for their own benefit.

"Unfortunately, children often do not recognise the negative relationship they are having with an individual or group; seeing them as a friend or the only people they can turn to. They are therefore not likely to report or seek help from the police.

“We ask that members of public remain vigilant to inappropriate or concerning behaviour and contact us or Crimestoppers should you see something that worries you.”

Across Sussex specialist support services have been stretched to cope with this influx in young people and their families coming forward for help.

To combat this, Mrs Bourne has awarded more than £250,000, from the 2020/21 victim’s budget, to four local charities so they can continue to support victims of this serious and damaging crime.

The services offer 1-1 counselling and help young victims report and give evidence, which can often be a traumatic experience. They will also put preventative measures in place by educating young people and parents/carers on how to spot the signs of grooming in the first instance.

Among those successful in their bid for funding is YMCA DownsLink Group. Their project, YMCA WiSE, will use part of the nearly £80,000 grant to address a current gap in services by working with parents, carers and families of those affected by CSE.

Commenting on what this money means to them, Mark Cull, Head of Youth Involvement for YMCA DownsLink Group said: “At a time when we are seeing ever increasing demand on our YMCA WiSE Child Sexual Exploitation project, the funding from our Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner is vital in helping us support victims and also through our work, help bring perpetrators of child abuse in front of the Criminal Justice System. We thank Katy and her team for their continued support of YMCA WiSE.”

Mrs Bourne comments: “Child exploitation is happening in Sussex and is more prevelant than people may think. I remain steadfast in my commitment to supporting victims and their families.

"I’m glad that I am able to lessen the strain on local services that do such important work to tackle exploitation at its early stages and support those who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.

“We must continue as a society to speak out against this abuse so that victims know they are not alone and perpetrators understand that it will never be tolerated.

“I pledge today to continue to take this issue seriously and support police and partners who are working to stamp it out.”

More advice and information about child sexual exploitation can be found on the Sussex Police website here:


Notes for editors

Breakdown of the allocated funding can be seen below.

YMCA Downslink Group Parent & Carer Work, WISE Project  £76,583
Survivors Network Child Independent Sexual Violence Adviser £69,070
Victim Support   Young Witness Service £71,379
Barnardos One to One Parent Support £40,000
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