A TEENAGE politician from Lincolnshire has "declared war on Britain's pimps".
Youth Parliament member Joseph Hayat, 17, of Sleaford, met with undersecretary of state for children Tim Loughton to discuss the issue of organised gangs exploiting and abusing young people.
In response, the entrepreneurial teen who owns his own air charter company, has been tasked to create a hard-hitting video, to try to shock people into anonymously talking about their own experiences.
He said: "There's not a lot of data about this issue because it's a taboo subject.
"We're hoping by putting a re-enactment video out on YouTube we will make people aware and scare them a bit in the hope young people come forward with their own experiences and feelings.
"A lot of people aren't aware of how big an issue this is – but it's possible 100,000 people were involved in this in the past year. Primarily, we're talking about serial gangs using and abusing vulnerable youngsters.
"The men target young women, give them cinema tickets, flowers and chocolates, then once the victim has fallen in love with the gang members, they get them high on drugs and abuse them.
"That's an extreme example but sexual exploitation doesn't have to be pimping – there are other forms of abuse – perhaps forcing people to do things they don't want to do.
"A lot of parents don't know it's going on until it's too late.
"So we need to take immediate action, we need to make people safe and we're declaring war on pimps."
"I know these gangs are dangerous but I'm not threatened by them."
Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of children's charity Banardos, welcomed any effort to tackle sexual exploitation as "child victims continue to go unidentified as tell-tale signs are overlooked due to a lack of awareness".
She said: "I have a lifetime of experience working in children's services, but there is nothing more shocking than child sexual exploitation.
"These vulnerable defenceless girls and boys, who crave love and attention, are groomed then abused in the most callous and calculated way, leaving them deeply traumatised and scarred for life."
Detective Chief Superintendent Guy Collings, head of Lincolnshire Police's Crime Support Department said: "We welcome initiatives which raise awareness of any form of child abuse or exploitation.
"The publicity and the video will help children to recognise when they are being subjected to abuse or exploitation, as this may start subtly, and the implications of what's happening to them may not be clear until they have already been drawn in.
"Parents and guardians are also asked to look out for tell-tale signs. I hope that the publicity will encourage children to be vigilant personally as well as looking out for their friends, and would urge anyone who has concerns to come forward and report these to the police."