MORE than 100 children in Poole were identified as being at risk of sexual exploitation last year, according to a new report.

During the 2017/18 year, 141 youngsters across the borough were assessed as being vulnerable – a 17 per cent rise on the previous year.

About 13 per cent of those identified over the 12-month period were deemed to be at “significant risk” of being exploited.

The figures have been published in a report to its cabinet reviewing the council’s work to meet recommendations made by its child sexual exploitation (CSE) working party last year.

“Preventing and reducing the harm caused by all forms of exploitation, including child sexual exploitation, continues to be a high priority for the council and its partners,” the report says.

“Positive progress has been by the council and all partners in continuing to tackle and address CSE and in delivering the recommendations of the CSE working party.”

One of the priorities for the council has been to improve its work with children who go missing with only a third being given a ‘return home interview’ in 2016/17.

The report adds: “A key area in the past year has been improving the council’s consistency of response to young people who go missing.

“There is a strong correlation between young people who go missing and those who are at risk of child sexual exploitation and other forms of exploitation.

“In 2017/18 there were 753 recorded missing child episodes with 235 children, who went missing at least once.

“Return home interviews offer an opportunity for workers to explore with young people their safety and ways to reduce the risk of young people going missing again.”

The number of youngsters interviewed rose to more than 80 per cent last year due to the appointment of an officer to oversee the work.

The council has also joined with other organisations across the county to engage with young people who are believed to be at risk of exploitation through criminal activities, including drug dealing.