Statement from Dr Alan Billings regarding David Cameron’s new measures to tackle child sexual exploitation.

“I applaud the Prime Minister’s initiative. It will help raise awareness of the continued existence of child sexual exploitation across the country.

“I became Police and Crime Commissioner as a result of child sexual exploitation issues and it is a top priority for me. Therefore, I welcome any new measures that will help to strengthen the systems in place to protect children and young people from sexual exploitation and to bring more offenders to justice. I will do whatever I can to enable South Yorkshire take advantage of any new funding being offered.

“We should not forget, however, the measures that have already been taken.

“For South Yorkshire Police I have committed 62 additional staff to work in the unit that deals with child sexual exploitation. This is a big commitment and comes on top of other posts agreed last year. It would be helpful if the government recognised this by funding these posts otherwise, with big reductions in the police grant this year, resources will have to be diverted from elsewhere in the police budget to pay for them.

“I have also formed a victims and survivors panel as a result of which we are building a picture from their perspective of how policing can be improved if they are to be helped sensitively and effectively.

“We are beginning to see in South Yorkshire many more people having confidence to come forward and speak to the police – though that remains a difficult journey for many to take.

“The government needs to act speedily, however. There are organisations in Rotherham that work with victims and survivors that are struggling to keep going and need funding now.

“We desperately need to turn a corner in Rotherham and that can happen if we have in place adequate funding, the right attitudes on the part of professionals and a willingness to listen to victims and survivors and learn from them. I look forward to working with the new Commissioner for Rotherham, Sir Derek Myers.”