Barnado’s calls for Westminster to focus on grooming

Barnado’s says a government minister needs to be made responsible for addressing the sexual exploitation of children.

The charity claims people from social services to Whitehall remain unaware of the issue. It claims exploitation and grooming is taking place in every city and town, with some children as young as 10.

The Department for Education said it was intent on tackling the problem. A spokeswoman said the department would work collaboratively to address the issue.

Barnado’s said members of its team had worked with victims that had been moved between cities and towns. It says this movement suggested trafficking is becoming a more organized crime.

The charity said they have worked with about 1,000 sexually-exploited children. It is concerned that thousands more are still being abused.

The call from the charity comes as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) begins a study on grooming in the UK.

Two Asian men were jailed last month in Derby for sexually abusing teenage girls. Following this, former home secretary Jack Straw said Asian men were targeting white girls. He was immediately attacked by critics for his comments.

Barnado’s chief executive, Anne Marie Carrie, said victims were being forgotten as discussions were now focusing on ethnicity.

She said until a minister has been assigned to the issue the problem will not be sufficiently addressed. Mobile and internet technology are also being increasingly used by abusers, she warned.

Penny Nicholls, a director for The Children’s Society, also urged the government to appoint a minister.