Call for stronger government lead on child sexual exploitation

10 September 2013

The government has today responded to the Home Affairs Committee report into child sexual exploitation and grooming. Commenting on the government’s response, Ellen Broome, Director of Policy at The Children’s Society, said:

'The Home Affairs Committee report laid bare the ‘catastrophic failures’ by professionals and called for an end to the situation where the support a child victim gets depends on the area in which they live.

'We know that the government take tackling child sexual exploitation very seriously. But their response to the committee’s report is a missed opportunity to set out a concrete plan for how they will make sure local agencies fully implement central guidance.

'There needs to be independent and transparent oversight of whether councils, police forces and schools are following statutory guidance.

Taking a strong lead

'As the Committee’s report showed, leaving it up to local agencies has failed before, and more of the same is likely to fail again. The government needs to take a strong lead, to make sure children aren’t let down.'

The Children’s Society recently published a report into provision of ‘Return Interviews’ by local councils in England. Children that run away from home are extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation, and statutory guidance already says every run away child should be offered a ‘Return Interview’ by their council when they return. 

But when The Children’s Society sent Freedom of Information requests to every council in England, just one in four said that they actually do this for all children who go missing. The findings underlined the need for a strong government lead and independent oversight of local agencies. 

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Notes to editors

  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.