The failure of local safeguarding children boards to secure prosecutions of those engaged in sexually exploiting children and young people is to be researched by the children’s charity Barnardo’s.
Speaking at a Community Care conference this week on sexual exploitation, Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said LSCBs needed to be working towards a more effective multi-agency approach to present better evidence to secure convictions. The move follows figures compiled by Barnardo’s showing there were only 89 convictions for child sexual exploitation in England and Wales in 2009 when 2,756 children were known to have been abused.
Carrie said: “These children are being failed twice; once by the failure to prevent them becoming victims in the first place and again by the failure to punish their abusers and secure justice.”
She said the two biggest reasons for such low conviction rates were insufficient evidence and the over-reliance of victims to act as witnesses. “Trials can be traumatic and painful experiences for children – especially when multiple perpetrators are involved.” Carrie has previously highlighted the case of a 15-year-old girl cross-examined by 17 barristers in a sexual exploitation case.
She said the results of the study to assess the role of LSCBs in securing prosecutions would be due in Spring next year.
Also today, Barnardo’s Scotland lodged a petition in the Scottish Parliament calling on it to commission research on the nature and scope of child sexual exploitation in Scotland.
The moves follow the arrest of 14 men this week as part of a major investigation into the sexual exploitation of teenage girls in Greater Manchester. Some of the girls involved were living in care at the time according to police. Girls, some as young as 14, from Stockport, are said to have been given drink and drugs and taken to sex parties.
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