Emma sat on a panel of parliamentarians that heard evidence as part of an inquiry into child sexual exploitation, led by Labour MP Sarah Champion. The cross-party panel of MPs and Peers heard from young victims as well as representatives from the police, legal profession, local authorities and the voluntary sector.
A snapshot survey of Barnardo’s specialist services for those affected by sexual exploitation revealed that in September last year the charity worked with over 50 per cent more young people in the North East compared to the same period in 2012.
The inquiry tested the effectiveness of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and a report published today by Barnardo’s and Sarah Champion MP has made a wide range of legislative and policy recommendations, including:
- Strengthening Child Abduction Warning Notices to make it a criminal offence to breach the conditions of the notice
- Amending the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to remove the need for a second contact in the offence of ‘meeting a child following sexual grooming’
- More powers to be given to Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards
- Removal of the term ‘child prostitution’ from legislation
- Changes to the way children learn about sexual exploitation in schools with a focus on prevention
- Specialist training to be given to all judges and lawyers involved in cases of child sexual exploitation
- Information about the myths and stereotypes about child sexual exploitation to be provided to jurors on relevant cases
“I was pleased to be able to support this inquiry in its important work. Thanks to the help of experts and the bravery of young people who spoke about their experiences we have come up with practical steps that Government can take to strengthen child sexual exploitation legislation.”
Emma has supported amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill tabled by Sarah Champion MP. These would change the laws against ‘grooming’ children so that a perpetrator only needs to make contact with a child once rather than repeatedly, making it easier to prosecute offenders. A second amendment would correct an imbalance in the law that currently defines abduction differently for children in the care system.