Bedfordshire Police shine a light on sexual abuse and violence as part of awareness week

The force is backing a national campaign to give victims the chance to talk openly about the subject and get help

The resounding message of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week is that 'it's not OK', and that all forms of sexual abuse or violence are unacceptable.

Bedfordshire Police’s specialist unit - Emerald - investigates sexual offences, rape and domestic abuse.

Detective Inspector Craig Laws, Emerald’s lead for rape and sexual offences, said: “We have already seen sexual offences making national headlines this year, with the media spotlight falling on how forces investigate such crimes, and the support that is offered to victims.

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“We will always continue to raise awareness about sexual abuse and violence, and encourage victims to report to us, but we cannot emphasise strongly enough, the message to offenders is that is no means no.”

Detective Chief Inspector Marie Gresswell, who heads up the force’s Child and Vulnerable Adult Abuse team, said: “Being a victim of sexual abuse is an extremely distressing experience for a child to go through; being forced or persuaded into taking part in sexual activities by an adult.

“The act doesn’t have to be physical and can happen online too, which is why we want to stress to parents how important it is to educate children on how to keep themselves safe from abuse and how they can protect themselves online.

“We work hard to tackle child sexual abuse and would urge anyone who has any concerns that a child is being sexually abused, to come forward and tell us.

“If you have been a victim of child sexual abuse yourself, please know it is never too late to report it to us, no matter how long ago it was."

For more information on Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, visit the It’s not OK website here