Latest Public Sector News


‘Inexcusable’ lack of protection for sex exploitation victims

Children vulnerable to sexual exploitation are being failed by local authorities, police and the justice system, MPs have warned in a new report.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee examined several high-profile cases from the past few years and found children left unprotected by the system.

Rochdale and Rotherham councils, for example, were “inexcusably slow to realise…the widespread, organised sexual abuse of children, many of them in the care of the local authority”.

The report adds: “This is due in large part to a woeful lack of professional curiosity. It is no defence for Rochdale and Rotherham managers to say that they had no knowledge of what was taking place, as they are ultimately responsible and must be held accountable for the appalling consequences of their indifference.”

The inquiry criticised a ‘postcode lottery’ in response to child sexual exploitation, with Lancashire County Council securing 100 prosecutions a year, but South Yorkshire none at all. Officials should not receive payouts if forced to leave their roles over poor handling of abuse, the committee added.

Education secretary Michael Gove rejected the committee’s previous recommendation for assistance to be given to teachers to identify and support children who are at risk. The MPs called for more training and greater awareness around child sexual exploitation: “We are concerned that the Department for Education does not seem to understand the importance of a holistic approach towards safeguarding children.”

Committee chair Keith Vaz said: “We were shocked to learn that it is still happening, in every part of the country. The quality of the response to the abuse depends on where you live and that is inexcusable.”

The inquiry found that there was no simple link between race and child sexual exploitation, despite it being a factor in several of the most high-profile cases. Vaz added: “Stereotyping offenders as all coming from a particular background is as likely to perpetuate the problem as is a refusal to acknowledge that a particular group of offenders share a common ethnicity.”

But the report stated: “It is difficult to argue that race has had no impact in some of these cases, not just on the part of the perpetrators…but also on the part of their communities, who turned a blind eye to the abuse of hidden BME [black and minority ethnic] victims…and on the part of professionals who were scared of being labelled racist.”

Barnardo's chief executive officer Anne Marie Carrie said: “Victims of child sexual exploitation are being failed twice: once by the failure to prevent them becoming victims in the first place and again by the failure to take swift action once that abuse has come to light. Everyone coming into contact with vulnerable teenagers needs to remember that they are children too, and cannot consent to their own abuse.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >