Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

4 Mar 2015

The Government launched its Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation report yesterday (Tuesday 3rd March 2015), in response to Professor Alexis Jay’s review into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, which was published last August.

The key actions outlined in the report include:

  • A new whistleblowing national portal for child abuse related reports, which will help to bring child sexual exploitation to light and be able to spot patterns of failure across the country
  • A new national taskforce, and a centre of expertise, to support areas that are struggling to get it right
  • Consulting on an extension to the new ‘wilful neglect’ offence to children’s social care, education and elected members
  • Giving child sexual abuse the status of a national threat in the Strategic Policing Requirement so that this is prioritised by every police force
  • An additional £7 million this year and in 2015/16 to organisations which support those who have experienced child sexual abuse and exploitation

Sheila Coates MBE, who attended the launch event at 10 Downing Street on behalf of Rape Crisis England & Wales, said:

“Rape Crisis welcomes any recognition of both the extent and the devastating impact of child sexual abuse on individuals and communities.

We hope this report does signal the ‘step change’ in approach to tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation that it promises; we know that no matter how good policies look on paper, it is how they translate on the frontline that really counts.

Now that the silence has been broken and child sexual abuse has been recognised as a ‘national threat’, dedicated funding to ensure all sexual violence victims and survivors have access to specialist, independent local support services must follow. 

Rape Crisis centres have decades of experience providing specialist frontline services, including to those mistrustful of statutory bodies, but are historically and chronically under-supported by local and national funders and commissioners; it is vital that Rape Crisis England & Wales member organisations are included in all local developments to tackle child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. 

We must also face up to the glaring reality that ongoing revelations about child sexual exploitation are unmasking widespread institutional sexism, reflected for example in the dismissal of the abuse of vulnerable girls as ‘lifestyle choices’. 

This sexism now needs to be tackled with the same rigour with which government and society rightly address institutional racism.”