THE work of a special unit to tackle child sexual exploitation was shown to MPs yesterday.

The Kingfisher team, based at Cowley Police Station, is the first unit in the Thames Valley to bring together council and police staff to fight the problem.

Oxfordshire County Council has put aside £620,000 to run the team and the police force has promised £500,000.

Det Chief Supt Andy Murray, head of force crime and lead officer tackling child exploitation, said: “We know the closer we work, the more we can protect children. We have always known that most of the abuse takes place in the home but it’s emerging across the country that some of this abuse and exploitation is occurring in a more organised fashion.”

Penny Browne, children social care area manager, added: “We are in the best possible situation to protect children.”

Nicola Blackwood, Oxford West and Abingdon MP, said: “It’s really encouraging the council and police have taken action so quickly to protect people from what is a really vile crime.”

East Oxford MP Andrew Smith added: “It’s critically important victims know there is somewhere they can go and get support.”

Anyone who suspects child sexual exploitation can call the Kingfisher team helpline on 01865 335276.

Nine men are due to stand trial next month accused of involvement in a suspected child sex exploitation ring in Oxford.