Child sexual exploitation is the ‘norm’ in parts of Greater Manchester, warns inquiry

Stockport MP Ann Coffey's inquiry also criticises local safeguarding children boards for avoiding the issue and independent children's homes for flouting government guidance

Picture posed by model; credit: Design Pics Inc/Rex

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) has become a ‘social norm’ in parts of Greater Manchester and tackling it will require a “sea change” in public and professional attitudes, a report by Stockport MP Ann Coffey has warned.

In her Real Voices report, ordered by Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner following the Rochdale CSE scandal, Coffey warns that young girls face “a worrying amount of unwanted attention and touching from men in the street” and feel under pressure from social media to do things they are uncomfortable with.

“Sexting, selfies, Instagram and the like have given rise to new social norms in changed expectations of sexual entitlement, and with it a confused understanding of what constitutes consent,” the Labour MP concluded.

Young girls interviewed for the report told of getting “approached all the time” when in school uniform and men who “do not care how old you are”.

They also told Coffey that they saw little point in reporting incidents to the police. “You do not report it because who is going to do anything? It happens so much I do not see the point,” said one girl.

Another told of how she was exploited by a 19-year-old when she was 12: “I lost my virginity to him and when my foster parent found out she said, ‘Why are you being a slag?’”

One youth worker interview quoted in the report said: “I find it scary and it is becoming more and more common. You can see in the girls’ eyes that they are scared and are being controlled.”

Flouting guidance

The report said Greater Manchester Police recorded 12,879 sexual offences against under 16s between 2008 and 2013 but these led to proceedings against only 2,341 defendants and 1,078 convictions. One in 10 of CSE crimes currently under investigation in Greater Manchester involved multiple perpetrators.

The report concluded that the work of social workers, police and other professionals alone will not be enough to tackle the problem and called for the whole community, including young people, to be engaged in the effort to protect children from abusers.

However Coffey said local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) and schools are avoiding the issue for fear of bad publicity.

“There has been a reluctance to talk about child sexual exploitation by LSCBs and schools because they do not want to been seen to have a ‘Rochdale’ problem,” she said.

“The result is that the public is ill-informed about CSE and is therefore not able to play a full role in protecting children. I was disappointed that only 6 out of 10 LSCBs responded to my question about the incidence and trends of CSE in their area.”

The report also said that some independent children’s homes are flouting government guidance by failing to alert councils when children move in from other areas. It said that there should be spot checks on homes to ensure that they are following the guidance in addition to Ofsted inspections.

Other recommendations included:

  • Care provision for 16 and 17 year olds to be registered and inspected by Ofsted
  • The appointment of a ‘CSE Champion’ to develop joint working across local authorities, police divisions and clinical commissioning groups in Greater Manchester
  • Scrapping laws that mean children can face criminal charges for loitering or soliciting for prostitution

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3 Responses to Child sexual exploitation is the ‘norm’ in parts of Greater Manchester, warns inquiry

  1. manzar iqbal October 30, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    I have been a youth worker or over 25 years working mainly in the public sector with some of the most vulnerable and at risk young people in society. More recently I work for a national charity where my role is to support and work with young people who are victims of CSE. My work is about giving young people the confidence and social skills to not just overcome these issues but also enable the young people to have more of a say in the decision making process , especially on services that are their to protect and look after children and young people. Whilst their is some fantastic work being done by many voluntary and community organisations to address some of the issues pointed out by Anne Coffey, this is not being backed up nor is it being supported by local or national government.

    Whilst we here shocking news about cse all over the country and more recently in Rotherham I am shocked that our Politicians and decision makers who hold the financial strings seem not to be putting their hands in the public purse to protect some of the most vulnerable children in society.

    I wonder what their reactions would be if god forgive one there victims happen to be their child?

    I applaud the report and I applaud the Anne Coffey for bringing the information to our attention. This is a wake up call for all of us. After all we are talking about our children and young people who need mine, yours and everyone,s help.

  2. Lynne Brosnan October 31, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    Well said Manzar.

  3. Roselyn Thompson October 31, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I am Social Worker and many time I am out in Manchester City Centre and see incidents happening to children and young people and I have to telephoned 999 asking for help and hand on heart the Police arrived. Police/ Social Workers shouldn’t get bad press for what they don’t know. It up to parents to asked for help when they notice their children’s behaviour. I must congratulate Grater Manchester Police/ Social Workers for the job they have done it not easy to track down the exploiters, I give in Manchester this is a busy city and always observing action with children and young people and when I see anything awkwards I interviene and iespecially if the young person appeared frighten. I always 999 or 0161872 5050 the Police always responding. I used my training in Child Protection and that is Child Exploitation to safeguards as much children in the Borough of Trafford and Manchester, I do this because as Social Workers we can’t everything and we depending on individual community, John Public and other professional to inform us of what happening to children and young people. Not everyone know who to report incident of exploitation to the Police or Social Services again not everyone know the telephone number for Children Social Services or the police then again people is frightened of victimisation.