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Children to get better protection from predatory sex offenders

Release Date: 21 Jul 2014

Barnardo's campaign leads to child grooming law change

The government is set to strengthen the law to allow police to act sooner if they suspect a child is being groomed for sex. The change has come about thanks to campaigning work by Barnardo’s and Sarah Champion MP.

The move follows news that the police have identified 10,000 suspected paedophiles, of which only 660 have so far been arrested. The change in law would allow police to act quickly to better prevent children being exploited or abused.

Currently the police have to be sure a perpetrator has contacted a child twice with the intention of meeting and abusing them before they can intervene.

The amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill would mean police only need to prove one contact if there is also a clear intention to meet and abuse the child.

Javed Khan CEO

Barnardo’s CEO Javed Khan said:

The grooming of children for sex is abhorrent. The police may know an abuser has contacted a child but they cannot make an arrest until they catch him at it again. Their hands are tied.

We must do all we can to combat this crime and it is welcome that the government has taken on board our recommendations.

We see day-in and day-out the profound damage these crimes do to vulnerable young lives. The effects echo down the generations and tear lives and communities apart.

The recent arrest of 660 suspected sex offenders serves as a reminder that the safety of children is paramount. It has to be right that we give the police every tool they need to protect them.

Barnardo’s and Sarah Champion originally called on the government to amend the law in April this year following a backbench parliamentary inquiry which tested the effectiveness of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the response of authorities to child sexual exploitation.

Sarah Champion MP

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham said:

The aim of our inquiry was to bring about positive change for the vulnerable victims of child sexual exploitation and I am delighted that the government has listened to our recommendations.

By allowing the police to intervene sooner when they suspect grooming is taking place scores of children will be protected from the trauma of sexual exploitation.

More needs to be done and I am continuing to work with Barnardo’s to ensure the voices of sexually exploited children are heard.

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