DRAMA students performed a powerful play to open a safeguarding conference at Airedale Hospital.

The young people from South Craven School, Cross Hills, gave a thought-provoking performance on the theme of child sexual exploitation and trafficking.

The play – written by year 12 students – spotlighted a perpetrator’s behaviour, showing how easily the person could move around in normal life circles and present a respectable facade whilst engaged in a secret life of exploiting vulnerable young people.

Among those at the annual conference, staged as part of Bradford Safeguarding Week, were professionals including health and social care staff and police officers.

Debra Burgess, clinical nurse specialist for safeguarding children at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and the event organiser, said: “We are very grateful to the South Craven students for their remarkable and sensitive play, which showed the damaging effects of child sexual exploitation on young people’s emotional, psychological and physical health.

“The aim of the conference was to highlight the levels of deception, coercion and control used in order to exploit children and adults.

“The gathering and sharing of information between agencies can ensure we all play our part in safeguarding, preventing children and adults becoming victims and recognising the perpetrators.”

The play was followed by an overview of the latest Government ‘Prevent’ strategy, which focuses on identifying vulnerable people – including children – who may be being targeted by radicals.

Izac Spencer, from the Bradford District Cyber Team, gave a presentation about the dangers posed to children by the internet and mobile phones.

And Detective Inspector Claire Smith spoke about how tackling child sexual exploitation was a priority for the West Yorkshire force.

“Bradford has the largest and busiest ‘live’ police team and we can put measures in place to gather intelligence and flag the perpetrators before any convictions,” she said.

“We encourage people to contact the police with any information, no matter how small, so that we can protect the children of Bradford district and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Other speakers included Noel McEvoy, the lead safeguarding adults nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, who talked about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.