MPs brand police treatment of child sexual exploitation victims a “postcode lottery”

Lack of trust means young victims are reluctant to ask the police for help, a cross-party group of MPs report

Photo: REX/WestEnd61 (Picture posed by model)

The way police treat child victims of trafficking or sexual abuse is a ‘postcode lottery’, according to a report by MPs.

The damning report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children found a “lack of trust” between young victims and the police.

The report said that children who have been trafficked or sexually abused said they felt confused by police processes and that they were treated with a lack of respect. Too often the positive encounters these children experienced with police were due to “the enthusiasm of a handful of staff” as good practice is not widespread, the MPs noted.

“When these children come to the attention of the police under suspicion of having committed an offence, their status as victims can go unnoticed,” the report noted.

The report, the result of a 15-month inquiry by MPs and written with support from the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), also found that children who are in care or have mental health issues are more likely to come into contact with the police.

MPs found that children in care do not always get the support and protection they need, and called for guidance and protocols to be put in place to reduce “the criminalisation of children in care”.

Young people interviewed as part of the inquiry told MPs how the police were being called to deal with problems in residential homes, which would have been managed without police involvement in a school or family setting.

“Witnesses who had experienced time in care spoke of how the police were often stern with them if they ran away, raising their voices and not behaving in a supportive way which demonstrated a concern for their welfare,” the report said. “Children in care tend to only engage with the police at times of crisis, preventing them from forming a more positive view of the police.”

As a result young people in care were often reluctant to ask the police for help.

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One Response to MPs brand police treatment of child sexual exploitation victims a “postcode lottery”

  1. Roselyn Thompson October 31, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    This is not good when MPs making judgment of the Police that they’re believing children of sexual exploitation. Prior to the first Manchester (Hulme) conviction I remember going to work early one morning and saw two Aisian me with two young girl partly nacked. I become curious and followed them to see where they were taken the girls, I see the address and I phoned the Police at and the put survilliance on the address. They men were convicted of their crime. My next comment if the public see what is happening to children and young people and do nothing how will Children Social Workers or Police know. Both professions need to work closely together if our children to be safe. I am more involved because I care and I am out of work due to disability and my treatments is in the City Centre which is a hotspot for child exploitation/abuse.