A police chief says measures are in place in Hartlepool to protect potential victims of child sex abuse and go after perpetrators.
Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson, of Cleveland Police, outlined measures in place to the Safer Hartlepool Partnership.
It was in response to a question from Fens and Rossmere Councillor Jim Lindridge in the light of the sex abuse scandal in Newcastle which resulted in the convictions of 17 men and one woman.
Under-age girls and vulnerable young women were taken to parties in the city and plied with drugs before being raped and sexually abused.
Chf Supt Simpson told the partnership that Cleveland Police had a dedicated Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) team to investigate reports and carry out pro-active work.
He said: “We are working with safeguarding boards for some time to make sure we have got structures in place to protect young people at risk of CSE.
“There are good structures in place in Hartlepool. We respond to all intelligence about CSE.
“There is a Tees-wide group and plan to look at protecting young people who may be victims of child sexual exploitation, trafficking or go missing.
“We do have the machinery to make sure we can bring criminals to justice as well as supporting the victims.” Chf Supt Simpson said the police refers potential victims to a Vulnerable Young Persons Action Group which involves a number of agencies including children’s services and social care.
He added: “The key issue is developing a trust with young people. We must have trusted adults that young people can approach.”
In the Newcastle case, older men preyed on immature teenagers who were plied with cocaine, cannabis, alcohol or mephedrone, then raped or persuaded into having sexual activity with the lure of the illegal drugs at parties.
Northumbria Police launched a major investigation after receiving information from social workers and initially spoke to 108 potential victims.