Police officers in Dewsbury are joining their county partners in warning young people to be wary of invites to free parties from older people who they know little about.
A tactic used by perpetrators of child sexual exploitation is to lure children to parties through social media and word of mouth, where they then ply them with drinks and drugs before pressuring them into sex, police said.
Police warned they may also bribe them into doing things they aren’t comfortable with in return for a lift home, as the ‘party’ is often held in an area that the young person is unfamiliar with.
Parents and guardians are also being urged to play their part by ensuring they know enough about the places their children are going to and, while not trying to stop them having fun, making sure they encourage them to take care and get in touch if they feel uncomfortable or get in trouble.
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “It’s an age old saying that nothing in life is for free, and we are asking teenagers to think about what someone is wanting in return when they are inviting them to parties with promises of booze and other free things.
“It is a sad fact that our officers have dealt with the aftermath of situations just like this where young girls and boys have been sexually assaulted and raped at what they thought were going to be fun parties and gatherings.
“Clearly, this kind of behaviour is despicable and, while young people themselves have a part to play in trying to avoid situations that would put them at risk, parents, guardians and other adults in the teenagers’ lives need to have honest conversations with them about their personal safety and who they are associating with.
“We also need people to report their concerns to us so that we can work to disrupt individuals and groups involved in this calculated exploitation of young people, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.”
The campaign has been produced by West Yorkshire Police and Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership in consultation with young people across the county and is being supported by partners including the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and Kirklees, Bradford, Wakefield and Calderdale Safeguarding Children Partnerships.
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: “This campaign is specifically targeted at young people to raise awareness of some of the common tactics used by predators. It is an important message to get across and has been produced in direct consultation with young people themselves to ensure the right messages are communicated.
“As Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation has been, and continues to be, a central focus as set out in my Police and Crime Plan.
“Whilst there is a host of work on-going to stop the perpetrators of these awful crimes it is crucial that we explore all angles to ensure a truly joined up approach in helping to keep people safe with key campaigns and messages.”
Advice to young people given by police include knowing the exact location of where you're going and whose party it is.