COUNCIL bosses are to spend more money on working to tackle the sexual exploitation of children and young people.

An extra £200,000 will be spent by Buckinghamshire County Council after the cabinet formally agreed to target the issue as part of its official strategy.

The council's cabinet member for children's services, Angela Macpherson, said high-profile cases nationally had drawn attention to the issue in Bucks.

Cllr Macpherson told the Bucks Free Press: "More staff will work with partner agencies, particularly the police, to pick up early signs of abuse.

"It's prevalent in many authorities and we are not immune from that."

She added: "We are seeing more young children coming into care as a result of sexual exploitation."

Cllr Macpherson said the council gets between 1,000 and 1,500 referrals requesting help putting children into care each month, which is an increase of 30 per cent compared to last year.

A recent campaign appealing for more families to adopt children led to more than 300 expressions of interest and Cllr Macpherson urged residents to be patient as council staff work to get through the backlog.

She said: "We are working hard to bring down the length of time we take from an expression of interest to placing the child with their adoptive parents."

An appeal for more foster carers is due to be launched by the council shortly, with a focus on raising awareness of what's involved.

Cllr Macpherson said: "It doesn't have to be full time - you can be a respite foster carer, who are often lifelines to people.