A PANEL of experts are hosting two online sessions tonight to help raise awareness of child exploitation.

Cumbria Police and partners are uniting with people from across the country to highlight issues as part of today's Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day.

CSE is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

It can take many forms, for example it could be a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes or the sharing of sexting images.

It is used to force children into criminality including for county lines drug dealing, forced shoplifting and sexual exploitation for gain.

Tonight, a panel of CSE experts, from police and partner agencies, will be holding a Facebook Q&A at 8pm-10pm on the Constabulary’s Facebook page.

The panel includes Detective Inspector Dan StQuintin, lead for CSE at Cumbria Constabulary; Holly Murphy, representing the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board (LCSB); Ellen Buckley, a Barnardo’s Senior Practitioner for CSE and missing from home and Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall.

The public can also message the Constabulary’s Facebook account with their questions if they wished to remain anonymous.

The panel will also hold a YouTube Live event at 9pm.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan StQuintin said: “It’s not the situation we want, but we have to be aware that this type of incredibly harmful exploitation is happening in Cumbria now.

"There is no typical area where children are most at risk of exploitation, it could happen in homes, at schools, on the streets, and it can happen online or in daily life.

“It is important that adults know how to spot the signs of abuse; children and teenagers might not know that what is happening to them is wrong, or feel able to express what is happening to them."

A spokesperson for the LCSB said: “Cumbria LSCB has worked relentlessly to continue to raise awareness of the risk of CSE, and ensure that those professionals working with children and young people at risk of, or victims of, this type of crime are protected and supported.

“We have a number of key working streams to make sure that prevention and protection remain high on the agendas of our workforce as well as raising awareness with young people and their families.”

Anyone with information can contact Cumbria Police on 101.