£40 million has been pledged by Ministers towards the fight against child sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. A new “centre of expertise” costing £7.5 million, is hoped to be set up to offer guidance to professionals on the front line.
In 2015, a new strategy was published by the Government for addressing the failures in child protection across England. This was published in response to the Rotherham abuse scandal, where more than 1,400 children were abused between 1997 and 2013.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said “there had been several signs of success since then, including an increase in the recording of contact child sexual offences by police, up 24% over the past year and 130% higher than in 2011-12. More funding is a recognition that more needs to be done in identifying abuse and protecting the most vulnerable.”
“We have increased support for victims of sexual abuse, invested in training and technology to improve law enforcement’s response to abuse both on and offline and brought a tougher inspection regime to ensure all frontline professions are meeting their child protection duties. But there is more to do. The measures I am announcing will further improve our ability to protect children and under my watch I am determined to bring those that would try to steal their childhood to justice”
According to official figures for 2015 till December 2015. the number of prosecutions rose by 14% while convictions jumped by 19%.
The Home Office has announced that the statutory definition of child sexual abuse has also been revised as the previous version dating from 2009 was ambiguous and “not fit for purpose”. Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. Officials said that the new definition” properly reflected that abuse or child sexual exploitation was always the responsibility of the perpetrator.”
The new definition is as follows: ‘Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse where children are sexually exploited for money, power or status. It can involve violent, humiliating and degrading sexual assaults. In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status. Consent cannot be given, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation doesn’t always involve physical contact and can happen online. A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point.’
The National Crime Agency is to be handed an extra £20m to tackle online child sexual exploitation and a consortium of organisations, will have to establish a new body to act as a “definitive source” of information and guidance for child protection officers, police officers and other practitioners on the front line.
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