Police collaborate on campaign to tackle sexual abuse of boys

Leicestershire Police is leading a campaign to uncover sexual abuse of boys after it was encouraged to raise awareness of the crime by the mother of a teen murdered by an online predator.

Leicestershire Police wants to tackle child sexual exploitation of boys
Leicestershire Police wants to tackle child sexual exploitation of boys

Leicestershire Police is planning an "extremely innovative film to grab the attention of teenage boys" as the centrepiece of a campaign that will launch next year. 

Matt Tapp, director of communications and engagement at Leicestershire Police, told PRWeek: "We want to use this campaign to raise greater public awareness that it is not just girls who are the victims of child sexual exploitation." 

The film – which has the working title Breck’s Last Game – will tell the true story of 14-year-old Breck Bednar, who was killed after being lured to the Essex flat of a man he had met while gaming online. 

Comms pros from Surrey Police, where Breck lived, and Essex Police are collaborating with Leicestershire Police and Northamptonshire Police on the campaign, which it is hoped could be used by forces across the UK. 

"Each of the four forces will decide how best it wishes to disseminate the film in their own force areas, but it is intended that the film will be posted online for a worldwide audience," explained Tapp.

"In Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, the film will form the centrepiece of a larger campaign about CSE (child sexual exploitation) and teenage boys, which will be launched in March 2018."   

The campaign launch is set to coincide with the National CSE Awareness Day on 18 March, the day after Breck’s birthday. 

Breck’s mother approached Tapp after learning of Leicestershire Police’s successful campaign to raise awareness of CSE through the story of local 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood, who was raped and murdered after being groomed online.   

The force produced a film called Kayleigh’s Love Story (below), which was shown to more than 50,000 school pupils in supervised screenings with safeguarding specialists, as well as receiving around 36 million views online. 

It is part of the force’s CEASE (commitment to eradicate abuse and sexual exploitation) campaign, which includes an online pledge and a social media twibbon. 

The five-minute, 30-second film has led to around 50 disclosures of CSE, added Tapp, but raised concerns from viewers that the issue of boys being targeted was not widely promoted. 

Plans for the new film and campaign are taking shape, with a programme of meetings set to take place with CSE experts and victims. 

"The film will be striking in its approach and I hope it will capture the imagination of the public," said Tapp. 

Its effectiveness will ultimately be measured through the number of disclosures made to police, while measurement will also include the number of views online, and engagement through social media. 

Donna Veasey, press office manager for Essex Police, added: "Our forces are keen to produce something which will resonate with boys, encouraging them to think about who they communicate with online and potentially change their behaviour.

"If the film encourages even one boy to report something they would not have otherwise disclosed then the film has been successful."

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