Town Halls want new powers in wake of Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal

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Town halls have called for new powers to help them intervene to prevent children being groomed for sex - in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.

The Local Government Association, which represents 370 local authorities, said court-backed orders were necessary because officials are ‘powerless’ to act if they suspect grooming but do no have enough evidence to prosecute.

Councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We need to make it easier to intervene earlier before harm is done.

“By making it possible for councils to apply swiftly to the courts for an order to disrupt grooming, we can help prevent the lives of children being ruined by sexual exploitation.”

Sexual Risk Orders would seek to ban suspects from activities such as being near schools at certain times.

Victims would not need to give evidence in court and breaching an order would be a criminal offence.

Coun Simmonds added: “We need a commitment from the next government that they will act swiftly to legislate for these orders, so no more communities will suffer the scars of child sexual exploitation. “The introduction of Sexual Risk Orders is an important step in giving the police more powers but we need to extend this to the wider community.

“We are not trying to pass a sentence before someone has been charged, nor do we intend to stop people from carrying out their normal daily activities but we need to know children are safe from the menace of child sexual exploitation and disrupting the activities of those we suspect of grooming young people can only help this.”

The Rotherham scandal was revealed after an independent report commissioned by Rotherham Council suggested 1,400 children were abused over 16 years by largely Pakistani heritage men while authorities turned a blind eye because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.