Laura Sharman 01 April 2020

Domestic abuse puts children at more risk of exploitation, review warns

There is an overlap between children’s experience of domestic abuse and their offending behaviour, a review has concluded today.

The review, published by the Victims’ Commissioner, warns that children who experience domestic abuse may seek alternative relationships outside of the home, leaving them vulnerable to sexual and criminal exploitation.

Children who are victims of criminal exploitation through county lines drug dealing may be seen as offenders rather than victims, the review said.

Dame Vera Baird said: ‘My review finds there is an overlap between children’s experience of domestic abuse and children’s offending behaviour. A quarter of children who were identified as having socially unacceptable behaviour also have identified concerns about domestic abuse of a parent or carer.

’Practitioners who support children out of gang related activity tell us the children and young people they work with commonly come from backgrounds of domestic abuse.’

The review calls for early intervention to identify and support children and young people who experience domestic abuse.

Dame Baird added: ‘I am calling for children who experience domestic abuse to be recognised in statute as victims of crime. I want to see targeted interventions and support to help these children and young people recover from domestic abuse.’ Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said: ‘I welcome Dame Vera’s review which emphases the need to place safeguarding at the heart of our response to child exploitation. This must be embedded within child protection and criminal justice procedures, with wraparound support provided to children locally.

’I am concerned that we’re not putting enough protection around children and have called for decision-making on child trafficking cases to be locally led.’

Iryna Pona, policy manager at The Children’s Society, said: 'In the long term it’s vital the Government invests in local early intervention services to end the current postcode lottery and ensure that children are identified and supported as early as possible. A national strategy is needed to tackle child criminal exploitation and define it in law.'

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