The Home Secretary on 16 February announced the delivery of a £40 million package of Government measures to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and to crack down on offenders.
It includes the launch of a new Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse, an extra £20m for the National Crime Agency to tackle online child sexual exploitation, £2.2m for organisations working to protect children at risk of trafficking and the launch of Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) in three early-adopter sites across the UK.
Amber Rudd announced the measures after visiting ‘Safer Futures’ in Salford, Greater Manchester, a counselling centre for victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The counselling centre is run by Barnardo’s, which heads the Centre of Expertise and delivers the ICTA service.
Writing for Mumsnet, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Children should be able to grow up free from the horrors of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Something that should go without saying, but sadly that’s not the case.
“Since 2010, the Government has done more than any other to tackle these horrific offences. We have increased support for victims of sexual abuse, invested in training and technology to improve law enforcement’s response to abuse both on and offline, and brought in a tougher inspection regime to ensure all front-line professions are meeting their child protection duties.
“But there is more to do, 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.”
The Centre of Expertise, a consortium of health, law enforcement and social care professionals, charities and academics, will receive £7.5m until 2020. It will become the definitive source of information and guidance to those tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation on the front line.
The Home Office’s Child Trafficking Protection Fund will today award nearly £2.2m to seven charities for projects protecting vulnerable children in the UK and overseas who are at risk of trafficking. The projects cover a range of proposals including tailored support for trafficking victims from various cultures, developing skills and expertise in local areas, and a specialist accommodation pilot.
Independent Child Trafficking Advocates will provide specialist support and act in the best interests of trafficked children. The service will initially be provided by Barnardo’s in Wales, Hampshire and Greater Manchester ahead of full national rollout.
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.”
Will Kerr, Director of the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) command, said: “Using the previous Government funding we have been able to nearly double the number of dedicated officers working to tackle CSE to more than 300, opened a new hub in the north west to specifically undertake CSE operations and more than tripled the overall organisational effort against CSE.
“The additional funding will strengthen and enhance our victim identification and child protection adviser capabilities, to target the most serious child sexual exploitation offenders.”
Other measures announced include: £2.2m for the second phase of the successful Disrespect NoBody campaign, which is designed to increase awareness of healthy relationships among young people.
A revised definition of Child Sexual Exploitation, to ensure frontline professionals have a shared understanding of what CSE is and how best to tackle it.
An additional £7m for organisations helping victims of sexual abuse, including children, doubling (for the third year) the core funding from central Government for sexual abuse services.
On 13 February the Government launched the second phase of its Together, We Can Tackle Child Abuse campaign, which is designed to educate people about what to do if they have any concerns about a child.
The announcement comes as the Government publishes its Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation: Progress Report, detailing the steps taken so far and what more needs to be done to combat this terrible crime. It follows the 2015 Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Report which set out an ambitious programme of work to address on a national scale the failures to protect children and young people seen in Rotherham and elsewhere.
The £40m package of announcements is broken down as follows: NCA Online CSE (£20m); the Centre of Expertise (£7.5m); funding for victims of sexual abuse (£7m); Child Trafficking Protection Fund (£2.2m); Disrespect NoBody campaign (£2.2m); Together, We Can Tackle Child Abuse (up to £2m).
The successful bidders for the Child Trafficking Protection Fund include:
AFRUCA (Based in London and Manchester) – Supporting recovery from child trafficking and reducing the vulnerability of victims to being re-trafficked.
The Children’s Society (UK-wide) – Raising awareness of trafficking among children and young people and providing emotional support to victims.
ECPAT UK (Based in London) – Improving local authorities’ ability to identify and support at-risk children and victims of child trafficking.
Barnardo’s (UK-wide) – Improving early identification of child trafficking victims and supporting reintegration and recovery.
International Organisation for Migration – Improving support provided by foster carers to child trafficking victims and reducing their vulnerability to being re-trafficked.
Unseen UK – Providing specialist accommodation to victims of trafficking and reducing vulnerability to being re-trafficked.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre (Based in Colchester and London) – Improving the evidence base and inter-agency collaboration to prevent child trafficking in Vietnam and improve victim recovery.