The Centre of Expertise for Child Sexual Abuse is designing a survey of children to run every 10 years to assess the true picture of children’s sexual exploitation.
The Government has said that it does not know how many girls have been groomed as a result of the sexual exploitation in Telford. Authorities raised concerns that 18,800 children were at risk in 2016-17 and there were 29,600 assessments of children by social services in England about other sexual abuse due to concerns raised by teachers, social workers and health services.
The Centre is funded by the Home Office and it is working with the Government to design the survey.
Lisa McCrindle the policy adviser has said,
“We know that children don’t always recognise that they are being abused and this means that surveys that are framed as abuse or crime often hide this abuse. We want to capture sexual experiences in childhood and young adulthood so we are likely to include young people in secondary school and up to early twenties.”
The Centre has warned that the existing figures may not reflect the real risk to children as assessments are only made when a concern is raised to social services and there is no indication as to whether some children were assessed more than once during the year. Also authorities have different criteria for abuse; some authorities class abuse were there is an online element , while others only consider that there is exploitation where there is an element of exchange i.e. a child being offered a payment or other incentive.
In light of the sexual exploitation in Telford, Lucy Allan asked Ministers to provide an estimate of the number of girls groomed for sexual exploitation and the number of perpetrators. At present it is clear that the Government has no such records.
Victoria Atkins Minister for Women has responded:
“The Government does not currently hold such figures. We are working to build the national picture of the nature and scale of this sort of abuse.
We have introduced new requirements for the police to record information relating to these offences which, along with the establishment of a new national Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, will help us to build a more informed picture of the scale of these crimes and the best ways to tackle and prevent them in the future.”
The Home Office has told the BBC that:
“This government is working to tackle child sexual exploitation, declaring it a national threat and making a significant investment to protect children, support victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
Despite challenges in building a national picture of child sexual exploitation, this government is taking action to change our response to this terrible crime, including offering more support to vulnerable people giving evidence.
The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse is also currently piloting an approach to improve the quality and consistency of data relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation. The government has also revised the definition of CSE in legal guidance, and introduced a new requirement on police forces to flag CSE offending, to build a clearer national picture of the problem.”
If you are concerned that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused you can contact the children’s social care team at their local council. You can choose not to give your details.
You can report it online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP).
Or you can call the NSPCC 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 for expert advice and support.
If a child is at immediate risk call 999, or call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.
Children and young people can call Childline free on 0800 1111 where trained counsellors are available 24 hours a day, every day.
Jordans Solicitors represent victims of abuse. If you would like to speak to a member of our highly skilled team and pursue a civil damages claim, please do not hesitate to contact us.