Exploitation of young people rife in the capital

Almost twice as many young people in London could be at risk of
sexual exploitation as are known to services, a report by
children’s charity Barnardo’s has found.

The report claims that social services are dealing with 507
separate cases of sexual exploitation across London, while the
total number of 11- to 18-year-olds at risk could be as high as

Sexual exploitation includes prostitution and trafficking, but also
exploitation by family members and other adults or “sex for
favours”, such as drugs or accommodation.

Report co-author Dr Sara Scott said: “The findings show there
is still a huge need for further resources in London to ensure
local authorities have specialist services to which they can refer
young people.”

The report calls on the government to review its use of secure
accommodation for victims of sexual exploitation and instead focus
on prevention, early intervention and multi-agency work.

“At present, the use of secure accommodation to protect
sexually exploited young people can often be viewed as a punishment
by them and there is also little or no support once they leave the
unit,” Scott said.

Schools should also play a greater role in identifying young people
at risk, the report adds, and the Metropolitan Police should
monitor how many young people run away or go missing.

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