MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 16-Feb-17 09:40:23

Guest post: "Increased funding will help wipe out child sexual exploitation"

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, unveils new plans to tackle child sexual exploitation in the UK

Amber Rudd MP

Posted on: Thu 16-Feb-17 09:40:23

(14 comments )

Lead photo

"Children should be able to grow up free from the horrors of sexual exploitation and trafficking"

We worry about children, whether they're warm, whether they're happy and most importantly whether they're safe. Regardless of whether they're at school, playing with friends or even grown adults, the worrying never leaves us.

And there can be few thoughts more harrowing than those of children suffering at the hands of predators who exploit them for sexual gratification or profit.

I recently visited 'Safer Futures' in Salford, a counselling centre run by Barnardo's for victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation. I met the staff who work tirelessly to support and counsel children and young people recovering from the most harrowing experiences.

While I was there I spoke to Sarah, who got involved with the wrong people following a family breakdown and found herself at 15 being groomed by older people towards a life of drugs and prostitution. Thankfully she was referred to Barnardo's in time and has completely turned her life around. She went back to school, did her GCSEs, gained qualifications at college and is now doing an apprenticeship. She is also now helping countless others by speaking about her experience and helping to train frontline professionals that come into contact with vulnerable young people just like her.

Visiting places like Safer Futures, and hearing cases like Sarah's, makes me ever more determined to wipe out these heinous crimes. Children should be able to grow up free from the horrors of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Something that should go without saying, but sadly that's not the case.

I know we must continue to expand our efforts until no child is outside of protection and no offender out of reach


Since 2010 the Government has done more than any other to tackle these horrific offences. We have increased support for victims of sexual abuse, invested in training and technology to improve law enforcement's response to abuse both on and offline, and brought in a tougher inspection regime to ensure all front-line professions are meeting their child protection duties.

Meanwhile the National Crime Agency (NCA) has developed new tools to safeguard children and identify online child sexual abuse offenders and nearly doubled its investigative capacity thanks to Home Office funding.

We have also strengthened the law around child trafficking, bringing in tougher sentences for traffickers and creating slavery and trafficking prevention orders to restrict their behaviour, like their ability to travel in and out of the UK.

We have already seen promising results: In 2015 there were 14% more defendants prosecuted and 19% more convicted for child sexual abuse than in the previous year. Better police recording and a greater willingness of victims to come forward has also contributed to a 130% increase in the number of child sexual abuse offences reported over the past five years – and a 25% increase in the past year alone. But these statistics in themselves are obviously worrying as one abused child is one too many.

We have made progress, but I know we must continue to expand our efforts until no child is outside of protection and no offender out of reach - so, we will be investing a further £40 million to tackle child sexual abuse and child trafficking. This investment includes £20m to help the NCA crack down on online sexual predators.

I will begin a nationwide rollout of Independent Child Trafficking Advocates who will provide specialist support to trafficked children, starting in three sites across the country. In addition, £2.2m will be made available to help protect vulnerable children who are at risk of trafficking.

I am also launching a new Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, a consortium of health, law enforcement, social care professionals and charities which will be led by Barnardo's. This will be a go-to source of authoritative, evidence-based guidance and information for those wanting to find out how best to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse, and how best to support survivors.

All these measures will further improve our ability to protect children, and under my watch, I am determined to bring those who would try to steal their childhood to justice.

The Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism, Sarah Newton MP, will be posting replies to users' questions at 2.30pm on Friday.

By Amber Rudd MP

Twitter: @AmberRudd_MP

Wishfulmakeupping Thu 16-Feb-17 12:14:13

But what about prevention rather than a focus on interventions and support after (obviously much needed) but how do we stop another Rotherham situation happening again- there are surely measures, education/changes in policy that would make a huge a difference.

beargrass Thu 16-Feb-17 12:28:45

Bolting the stable door, I'm afraid. What about...

Compulsory PHSE? Teaching young people, including those that could go on to perpetrate, what consent is, what a loving relationship is?
Criminalisation of those who pay for sex? (Well, rape, if we are being honest)
A thorough review of why men commit these offences and what the govt can do to stop them, and if rehabilitation is possible?

Why is the focus always 'look, we've forked out for a service for survivors', when that service is never gonna scratch the surface of what survivors need, or do anything to acknowledge the root causes of this kind of exploitation.

The truth is, this kind of thing looks momentarily good and a national charity will get some of the limelight. But it's not going to deal with the real issues. So it's either a waste of time and money, or a convenient distraction from failure to address the real problems. Or both

JaneH99 Thu 16-Feb-17 15:35:19

What is vital is the introduction of mandatory reporting of known and suspected abuse on reasonable grounds, by workers in schools, healthcare, sports organisations, faith groups etc (known as Regulated Activities), and supported by an overhaul to child protection training via accredited trainers (no accreditation currently exists). It is also necessary to enhance the very important role of the Local Authority Designated Officer to increase its triaging role and function by an accredited social worker. The UK is out of step with the majority of the rest of the world by not having MR. This slide demonstrates goo.gl/GvIsUX

And before anyone suggests there is a law to report known or suspected child abuse, please read this published for the first time by Government only on 21/7/16 goo.gl/ZxNCln

Until law is introduced there only exists nominal responsibility for child protection in these settings, and almost no accountability.

nonameinspiration Thu 16-Feb-17 17:01:32

Fits with new policy about outsourcing social care services even more. Thatcher would be so proud!

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Thu 16-Feb-17 17:12:20

janeH - I think many parents of children with needs who battle every day with incompetent and power-hungry workers might have a lot to say about your suggestion. These are families (and primarily mothers) who are accused of abuse because that is easier than providing proper support. Safeguarding has become an industry with vested interests. Your proposal would put a veneer of respectability without changing any of the underlying problems.

Karengee46 Thu 16-Feb-17 18:36:09

I have read this post and think it's very positive. It comes on the eve of our launch tomorrow. i am a parent of an abused child and tomorrow we are launching a child sexual abuse awareness project in Bilston town hall with the backing of superintendent of Wolverhampton police and head of safeguarding for Wolverhampton. To hopefully work in schools and with professionals to raise awareness and prevent sexual abuse of our young people I think it's come at the right time me my daughter and my son are speaking out about our experiences to try and help front line and children alike I just hope it takes off the way we hope we are not a big organisation but talking from first hand experience

LordScree Thu 16-Feb-17 18:47:39

I tend to agree with beargrass - £40m additional funds going into intervention, but no mention of additional funds on education.

The way I see it, the greatest threat to children is the internet. Specifically social media and private access of children to it.

Okay, so the criminals are pretty bad... but it's only recently that society has allowed those criminals to communicate directly with children in their own bedrooms. It's become socially acceptable for young children to have personal smartphones, tablets, etc.

Even without the groomers and exploiters, children are incriminating themselves! (RE 14 year olds involved in sharing indecent images)

I use the term "allowed", but it's surely a lack of understanding mixed with a false sense of safety.

Practical advice for parents, training for teachers and additional education for children is essential.

We need more funding for effective digital versions of "stranger danger". Like a Tufty the Squirrel for how to behave online.

And more funding on myth-busting and awareness. Rotherham is often observed as an exception, but the reality is there's already a Rotherham in every UK police force.

Sladurche Thu 16-Feb-17 19:58:41

So why did Amber Rudd block 3,000 refugee children from coming to the UK, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse? Or is it only British children that deserve this?

MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Fri 17-Feb-17 14:38:48

Hi everyone,

Thank you for the questions - Sarah Newton MP has sent her answers, they'll follow shortly.

Thanks
MNHQ

SarahNewtonMP Fri 17-Feb-17 14:41:16

Wishfulmakeupping

But what about prevention rather than a focus on interventions and support after (obviously much needed) but how do we stop another Rotherham situation happening again- there are surely measures, education/changes in policy that would make a huge a difference.

You’re right that while we must do everything we can to provide care and support for survivors, our ultimate aim must be to stop would-be offenders at the earliest possible opportunity and ensure that children are protected before sexual abuse can happen.

And that’s one of the reasons why we’ve invested £7.5 million establishing a groundbreaking new Centre of Expertise. It will be the leading authority on what works to prevent abuse from happening in the first place and how to deal with offenders.

You raise another good point – educating young people on sex and relationships is a vital part of preparing them for adult life and increasing their resilience against abuse. This is compulsory in all maintained secondary schools and, as my colleague the Education Secretary said recently, we’re also looking at options to make sure all children have access to high-quality teaching on these issues.

I’m really conscious that children are spending more and more time on the internet these days and it’s so important that they’re aware of the risks online. The National Crime Agency’s educational programme, Thinkuknow, is doing just that.

SarahNewtonMP Fri 17-Feb-17 14:41:58

beargrass

Bolting the stable door, I'm afraid. What about...

Compulsory PHSE? Teaching young people, including those that could go on to perpetrate, what consent is, what a loving relationship is?
Criminalisation of those who pay for sex? (Well, rape, if we are being honest)
A thorough review of why men commit these offences and what the govt can do to stop them, and if rehabilitation is possible?

Why is the focus always 'look, we've forked out for a service for survivors', when that service is never gonna scratch the surface of what survivors need, or do anything to acknowledge the root causes of this kind of exploitation.

The truth is, this kind of thing looks momentarily good and a national charity will get some of the limelight. But it's not going to deal with the real issues. So it's either a waste of time and money, or a convenient distraction from failure to address the real problems. Or both

I completely agree that it’s crucial that young people understand consent and what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. I want them to have the understanding, and the confidence, to challenge harmful sexual behaviours wherever they see them.

We know that children are often abused by other children and other young people and we’re working really hard to tackle the attitudes and behaviours that lead to abuse. The Disrespect NoBody campaign, which includes adverts on TV and online, is teaching young people about consent and other issues like sexting, and helping young people to really understand what a healthy relationship is.

As for prostitution, we are committed to tackling the harm and exploitation that can be associated with it. I believe that people who want to leave prostitution should be given every opportunity to find routes out.

And you are right that in order to truly tackle sexual exploitation and abuse, we must first understand it – the nature and scale of the crime, why people offend, how to manage them and – most importantly – how best we can help to protect potential victims and support survivors. This is exactly the reason why we have invested in the new Centre of Expertise.

SarahNewtonMP Fri 17-Feb-17 14:42:32

JaneH99

What is vital is the introduction of mandatory reporting of known and suspected abuse on reasonable grounds, by workers in schools, healthcare, sports organisations, faith groups etc (known as Regulated Activities), and supported by an overhaul to child protection training via accredited trainers (no accreditation currently exists). It is also necessary to enhance the very important role of the Local Authority Designated Officer to increase its triaging role and function by an accredited social worker. The UK is out of step with the majority of the rest of the world by not having MR. This slide demonstrates goo.gl/GvIsUX

And before anyone suggests there is a law to report known or suspected child abuse, please read this published for the first time by Government only on 21/7/16 goo.gl/ZxNCln

Until law is introduced there only exists nominal responsibility for child protection in these settings, and almost no accountability.

Every child deserves to be protected from abuse and neglect. That’s why we ran a public consultation on different measures for reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect, including mandatory reporting or a duty to act.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the issues involved are complex and we are carefully considering all views and all the available evidence before coming back with our conclusions.

SarahNewtonMP Fri 17-Feb-17 14:43:12

Sladurche

So why did Amber Rudd block 3,000 refugee children from coming to the UK, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse? Or is it only British children that deserve this?

She didn’t. It is just wrong to say that we have blocked 3,000 refugee children from coming to the UK. We are making a very significant contribution to hosting and protecting the most vulnerable children. Last year 8,000 children were given shelter and safety in the UK including over 750 from the Calais camps.

We are helping the most vulnerable children fleeing conflict and danger. The best way to do that is to provide support in the region where the conflict is happening; not drive children to make dangerous journeys to Europe or into the hands of traffickers. That’s why we’ve pledged to resettle 3,000 vulnerable children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa and 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.

And the measures announced this week also aren’t just about helping children in the UK. We’re rolling out Independent Child Trafficking Advocates, who will provide one-to-one support to victims or even potential victims of child trafficking, wherever they’re from – from supporting them in official meetings, to helping them access counselling or find somewhere to live. We’re also putting £2.2million into projects to help trafficking victims at home and abroad recover from their ordeal and prevent them being trafficked again in the future.

CheerfulYank Sat 18-Feb-17 02:16:04

What do we (and I'm not even in the UK) do about sex tourism and the dark web? (Or deep Web...I've heard there's a difference but I don't know what it is blush )

Obviously we can't change laws in places like Thailand and Cambodia but how to we find and punish our own citizens who are flying over there for sexual access to toddlers? How to we rip the lid off the dark web? There are so many children there being exploited by their own parents and they are impossible to find. Ashton Kutcher just testified about his work with his foundation and said that the FBI (or similar) had contacted them about a little girl they had seen being abused via webcams for THREE Years but they couldn't find her.

How to we combat this?

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