There has been a ‘sharp increase’ in local authorities’ efforts to recognise and combat child sexual exploitation (CSE), a leading children’s charity has said.
A new report published by Barnardo’s today found a 38% increase in the number of people being supported by its CSE services across the UK, over the last year.
Some 3,430 children, young people, parents and carers accessed the charity’s CSE services in 2016-2017, compared to 2,486 in 2015-2016.
The charity said that the increase is because local authorities have become far more proactive in commissioning services to combat CSE.
Recent high-profile cases like Operation Sanctuary, in which members of a gang who groomed and sexually abused young girls in Newcastle were jailed last month, is noted as one of the reasons behind the increase in the number of people using the charity’s CSE service.
The charity's chief executive, Javed Khan, said: 'The report on Barnardo’s impact published today shows a relentless and growing demand for our specialist services, and as a result we are now helping more vulnerable children and young people than ever before.
'Having trained frontline professionals to identify children and young people vulnerable to sexual abuse in their communities, we have seen a huge increase of referrals to our child sexual exploitation services.'
Barnardos is now working with councils across the country to help them rethink the delivery of children's services.
The report underlined that only joint working with councils, the NHS, the police and other stakeholders, will make it possible to understand how children's services can be changed for the better.