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MP and Barnardo’s call for tougher laws to protect children

Release Date: 02 Apr 2014

Sarah Champion MP and the children’s charity Barnardo’s are together calling on the government to toughen up laws that protect children from being groomed by predatory sex offenders.

A report published today by Barnardo’s and Sarah Champion MP recommends that a legal loophole be closed which will allow police to step in sooner if they suspect a child is being groomed for sex. This includes grooming online.

Under current legislation for someone to be arrested for the offence of ‘meeting a child following sexual grooming’ there must be at least two incidences of contact before a meeting takes place, with the intention of abusing them. In order to better protect vulnerable children Barnardo’s and Sarah Champion MP are demanding that police should only need to prove one contact if there is also a clear intention to meet and abuse the child.

The inquiry which tested the effectiveness of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 has made a wide range of legislative and policy recommendations, including:

•More powers to be given to  Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards

•Changes to the way children learn about sexual exploitation in schools with a focus on prevention

•Specialist training to be given to all judges and lawyers involved in cases of child sexual exploitation

•Removal of the term ‘child prostitution’ from legislation

•Information about the myths and stereotypes about child sexual exploitation to be provided to jurors on relevant cases

Sarah Champion MP for Rotherham said:

Through this inquiry we have shone a light on child sexual exploitation. We wanted to know what we as a society are doing right and where we are failing those who fall victim to this terrible crime.

During the inquiry we heard a great deal of compelling and heartrending evidence and I would like to thank all those who contributed

We have set out a number of legislative suggestions that we believe will improve the way child sexual exploitation is tackled in this country. I implore the government and other relevant authorities to look closely at our recommendations."

Barnardo’s UK director of strategy Puja Darbari said:

It is essential that we have strong legislation in place to tackle the grooming of children for sexual exploitation. We must ensure that the police and other authorities have all the necessary tools at their disposal to keep vulnerable children safe.

Barnardo’s worked with nearly 2,000 sexually exploited children last year and we see first-hand the devastating impact these crimes can have.

It is to be hoped that by acting on the recommendations outlined in this report we can create a system that puts the welfare of sexually exploited children at its very heart.”

Barnardo’s emergency fundraising appeal is raising money to help offer support to sexually exploited children and young people, please donate.

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