Watch our video on why 16 and 17 year olds need more support and protection
The Policing and Crime Bill is a vital opportunity for the Government to strengthen the protections and improve the support for 16 and 17 year olds at risk of sexual exploitation. We’ve reached the Report Stage where MPs debate and possibly vote on the changes we want to see.
We’re calling on the Government to include four key things in the bill:
- More powers for police to intervene early to stop sexual exploitation of vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds before it happens
- Better access to mental health support for children who have been sexually abused so they get the help they need early, before reaching crisis
- A new offence for those who use alcohol and drugs to threaten, coerce and groom children
- More consistent data collection by the police so that children get the same protection regardless of what police authority they live in
We need your support urgently. Please call on your MP to protect 16 and 17 year olds and support the changes we want to see in the Bill.
16 and 17 year olds don’t get the help they need or the justice they deserve
Our research found that because of their awkward age, 16 and 17 year olds are too often not recognised as victims of child sexual exploitation, so they don’t get the help they need or the justice they deserve.
Huge numbers of sexual offences against older teenagers went unreported and unpunished in the last year. More than three quarters of cases of reported sexual crimes against 16 and 17 year olds result in no police action against the perpetrator. Only a tiny proportion result in a successful prosecution.
In December we had a debate in parliament after more than 2000 campaigners contacted their MP about the issues.
The Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said: ‘I commend The Children's Society for their invaluable work in drawing attention to particular vulnerabilities and recommending actions’.
Theresa May, when confronted with this issue in Home Office questions, said 16 and 17 year olds are: 'Equally as vulnerable as younger people and need the protection and care we should be giving them when we deal with these difficult issues.’
Now we’re calling on the Government to make sure the legislation going through parliament includes the changes this group of young people so desperately need.