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At a recent landmark Downing Street Summit, Prime Minister David Cameron, outlined proposals to protect children from sexual exploitation in the wake of the devastating findings over the last couple of years. 

The government will consult on extending the new criminal offence of ‘wilful neglect’ of patients to children’s social care, education and elected members. 

The proposed legislative changes are a direct response to reports by Alexis Jay, Ann Coffey and Louise Casey into systemic institutional failings. 

Crucially, the Summit saw senior representatives from local authorities, children’s services, the NHS, Police and those working directly in child protection, in attendance. 

The uniting goal is to ensure local areas have long term practical plans in place to uncover child sexual exploitation (CSE) and that more offenders are brought to justice. 

Helpline for reporting bad practice


The government asserts that CSE remains hidden and is going to introduce a new whistleblowing helpline. It is hoped that the helpline will encourage public sector workers to report bad practice and help local authorities address issues quickly.

Inspections


Although exact details are yet to be released, joint official health, police and education inspections will take place. A new Child Sexual Abuse Taskforce will also be set up comprising experts in social work, law enforcement and health that will support local areas. 

Clamping down on exit-payments


Controversially, some employees were reported to have received significant pay-offs. The proposed changes to exit payments for senior staff, including council staff, will see payments being clawed back where the person is quickly re-employed in the same part of the public sector. 

A national threat


Child sexual exploitation is now being prioritised as a national threat. In much the same way as organised crime, it means police forces must work much more collaboratively to safeguard children. Plans are for forces to be supported by specialist regional CSE police coordinators. 

The announcements follow a number of new measures announced by the government in recent months to tackle CSE, including:

  • New provisions through the Serious Crime Bill to criminalise sexual communications with a child and the possession of ‘paedophile manuals’ 
  • New laws making it easier for the police to access information from hotels and similar facilities on guests, where child sexual exploitation is suspected
  • New guidance on prosecuting any cases of child sexual abuse, focusing on credibility of the allegation rather than that of the individual
  • A single, secure database of indecent images of children, increasing the ability to identify victims and speed up the process of collecting evidence
  • £10m to allow the NCA-CEOP to create new teams to tackle online CSE

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