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Members of Luton council will discuss what more can be done to ensure that vulnerable children, young people and adults are protected from sexual exploitation. Chief executive Trevor Holden will hold talks and discuss how to report any issues.

He will highlight what is being done to tackle the issue in Luton, and he will seek to raise awareness of tell-tale signs to recognise if an individual is being exploited, and how to report it.

Mr Holden said: “Let’s be very clear. Sexual exploitation is not an issue about race or ethnic background; it is one of grave criminality.

“We want to give out a strong message that it will not be tolerated in Luton and our aim is to make it as difficult as humanly possible for anyone to exploit vulnerable children, young people and adults in our borough.

“To successfully tackle sexual exploitation we need everyone working together. That means the Council working closely not only with the police but also youth offending and health services, voluntary agencies, businesses and of course all local communities.

“Protecting vulnerable children and adults is everyone’s business, and we all need to be alert, to know what to look out for and where to go for advice, as well as having the confidence to report any acts of abuse safe in the knowledge that they will be acted on.”

All council employees must undertake safeguarding training, so that they are aware of their child protection responsibilities and the policies and procedures to be followed if they have concerns about a child or young person’s safety or welfare.

The Luton Safeguarding Children Board and the Luton Safeguarding Adults Board are responsible for ensuring all organisations work together as effectively as possible.

Michael Preston-Shoot, independent chair of both organisations, said: “Combating the sexual abuse of children and adults at risk through exploitation is a high priority for the Luton safeguarding boards and, although it is largely a hidden form of abuse, recent high-profile cases are helping to raise awareness of this crime.

“A great deal of good practice is already taking place within the town, including all different agencies meeting regularly to discuss cases, identify risks and share information.

“Written guidance is also available to assist practitioners in identifying those children and young people vulnerable to the risks associated with sexual exploitation and what actions they should take if they suspect an individual is being abused.”