Councils have warned a £40m package of Government measures to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, is not enough.
The measures include £7.5m until 2020 for a new Centre of Expertise on child sexual abuse. This will be a consortium of health, law enforcement and social care experts who can provide guidance for tackling abuse.
There is £20m for the National Crime Agency to tackle online child sexual exploitation and £2.2m for organisations working to protect children at risk of trafficking.
Whitehall is also launching Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs). They will be provided by Barnardo’s in Wales, Hampshire and Greater Manchester ahead of a full national roll out.
‘Children should be able to grow up free from the horrors of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking,’ Amber Rudd wrote on Mumsnet.
‘Something that should go without saying, but sadly that’s not the case.
‘The measures I am announcing today will further improve our ability to protect children, and under my watch I am determined to bring those that would try to steal their childhood to justice.’
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said: ‘Through the Centre of Expertise we will develop a deeper understanding of this abuse so that more children can be protected and helped to recover.
‘We will use our collective experience and expertise to develop a greater understanding of what works in the fight against child sexual abuse and to improve responses.
‘And thanks to the roll-out of the independent child trafficking advocates, trafficked children in Hampshire, Greater Manchester and Wales will no longer have to navigate their way alone through complicated statutory systems including health, social care, education and criminal justice, to get the support they need.’
The Local Government Association (LGA) welcomed the new funding, but warned more money and a ‘coordinated long-term strategy’ was needed to tackle child sexual exploitation.
‘It is important the Government recognises the wider funding pressures facing social workers and others trying to deliver services for vulnerable children, with councils facing a £1.9bn funding gap in children’s services by 2020,’ said Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board.
‘While funding individual programmes of work is positive, a coordinated long-term strategy and funding to protect all children is vital.’