A cross party group of MPs have written to the Government to highlight the urgent need to take effective action to confront gang related Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and to ensure that all statutory authorities are properly equipped to protect children.
The MPs came together having each encountered gang related Child Sexual Exploitation in their own constituencies. They were alarmed by the similarities in cases across the country and by the implications that this raised.
The MPs discussed how best to prevent these crimes, gaps in current safeguarding provision and what could be done to improve the statutory response.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, the MPs have called for the Home Office to undertake research into common patterns of behaviour in cases of gang-related CSE to better understand the drivers of this specific form of abuse. In addition, they request Government to work with the Information Commissioner’s Office to develop guidelines that actively encourage agencies to share information where there are grounds to believe that a child may be at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation. This is cited as a frequent failing when it comes to this form of child abuse.
In a separate letter to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadim Zahawi MP, the MPs have sought clarification on the guidance issued to local authorities on planning and strategies in relation to preventing CSE and for the Minister to comment on why this crime frequently occurs in unitary authorities.
Commenting on the need to confront gang related Child Sexual Exploitation, Sarah Champion Member of Parliament for Rotherham, who convened the group, said: “Gang related Child Sexual Exploitation is an abhorrent crime. It has a devastating and lifelong impact upon victims. It is absolutely vital that, as elected representatives, we do everything we can to confront and prevent gang related CSE. This issue is above politics, it is about doing what is right to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
Lucy Allan, Member of Parliament for Telford, said: “I am pleased to have joined with MPs cross party, to ensure that this horrendous crime is tackled and victims and their families get justice.
“In a grooming case consent is not freely given. It is wholly unacceptable that the issue of consent is considered in any way relevant when police decide whether to bring charges in CSE grooming cases.
“Victims must be confident that police understand this crime and charges will be brought against offenders.”