Bedfordshire’s child sexual exploitation researchers up for top policing award

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Experts at the University of Bedfordshire who are tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) have been nominated for a national award.

Academics from the university’s International Centre (IC) researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking have been nominated for the National Policing Lead’s Award category of the NWG Unsung Hero Awards.

Senior researcher in the IC, Dr Fiona Factor said: “The nomination came completely out of nowhere.

“I was absolutely speechless, overwhelmed and felt really proud that a police colleague had appreciated the work I’d done so much they had taken the time out and made the effort to make the nomination.

“The fact that it is in the National Policing Lead category, yet I’m not a serving officer, is even more special.”

The team were nominated for their work with the Marginal Gains project, a group of young people who looked at ways the police service in England and Wales could better engage with young people and support victims of CSE.

The group put together a poster that offers guidance to police officers on they can best support young people. It will be distributed to police stations and custody suites across the country.

The group also produced a film that the College of Policing are planning to use in the future training of new police recruits.

Both of these are to be launched at the University’s CSE & Policing Knowledge Hub end of project conference today in London (March 16).

“I have worked on numerous research and participation projects which have intended to give young people a voice. Frequently, it has been a tokenistic attempt to tick a box on a funders report. The momentum generated by the Marginal Gains project is unprecedented in my experience,” added Dr Factor.

“The young people and the police officers involved have produced outstanding legacy products that will be available long after the project ends.

“It has been an absolute joy to work with everyone on the Marginal Gains project - I do believe we have really made a difference this time around.”

The group, along with colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, will also present their work at the Metropolitan Police CSE conference in London on March 17 and at the NWG Annual Conference in Nottingham on Tuesday 21 March.

The team will find out if they have won their award at the NWG Annual Conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham on March 21.