Thomas Bridge 30 October 2014

Child sexual exploitation new 'norm' in Greater Manchester, report finds

Child sexual exploitation has become 'a new social norm' in some neighbourhoods of Greater Manchester, a report has warned.

An investigation led by Ann Coffey MP in light of the Rochdale grooming case of 2012 found 12,879 reported cases of serious sexual offences against under 16 year olds had led to only 1,078 convictions over the past six years.

Coffey today demanded a 'radical new approach' to exploitation from local children's services, police and the justice system alongside a change in permissive cultural attitudes.

She called for support to help young people 'lead the fight' against local issues and pushed for greater sharing of resources across council and police boundaries.

'Young people are still too often being blamed for being a victim. We need to get across the key message that whatever young people wear and however sexualised they appear, they are still children and need our protection,' Coffey said at the launch of her Real Voices report.

'The whole community needs to be involved and informed about trends and types of CSE in their local area.

'Although we can come up with more effective ways for agencies to work together, the most important thing we can do to protect children is to tackle the cultural attitudes that cocoon sex exploiters and enable them to get away with what they are doing under our noses,' she added.

Figures from Greater Manchester Police reveal there are currently 260 ongoing police investigations into child sexual exploitation.

The report also revealed 14,712 children and young people went missing and absent from home and care in Greater Manchester from January to September 17 this year.

Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd - who commissioned the report - said: 'This is a challenging report, but it's also one that's full of hope. It is clear that agencies who are tasked with keeping our young people safe have made huge mistakes in the past.

'This report isn't one to sit on the shelf. I believe it can be a catalyst for real change that we cannot ignore. We all have a responsibility to act and the time to do that is now.

'I believe that its findings are important, not just for Greater Manchester, but for across our land,' he added.

A young person led digital multimedia network has now been formed to produce a weekly radio show that addresses issues surrounding child sexual exploitation. Linked to social media, the project has received backing from the new Greater Manchester Consortium Against Child Sexual Exploitation - which includes the Princes Trust, Barnados, The Children's Society and the NSPCC.

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