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02/06/13 11:04

Tackling child sexual exploitation

New scheme announced to identify children at risk.

A new approach to identifying children at risk of sexual exploitation – including those in care – will be piloted in the Forth Valley area.

The pilot will test new ways of identifying, recording and preventing the sexual exploitation of children and young people.

Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire councils, in partnership with the Scottish Government, will trial recently developed methods to identify young people who have been sexually abused and ensure that appropriate support services are available to them.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell said:

“We are determined to crack down on the criminals who seek to exploit children in care. These are among the most vulnerable young people in our communities and we have a duty to protect them.

“The truly heart-breaking part of so many of these cases is that the young people often don’t realise they are being exploited.

“They can be so in thrall to these criminals and to the drink and drugs they ply, that they don’t see themselves as exploited. That can make it hard to identify those at risk and those already caught up in exploitation.

“The University of Bedfordshire has developed new ways to identify a child or young person has been sexually exploited. This builds on work elsewhere in the UK and three councils – Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling - will help us to see how effective they could be used across Scotland.”

The Scottish Government is currently refreshing the National Child Protection Guidance and working closely with Barnardo’s Scotland, we are paying particular attention to the sections on sexual exploitation. These improvements are expected to be complete by December.

Margaret Anderson, Chair, Falkirk Child Protection Committee and George Hunter, Chair, Clackmannanshire and Stirling Child Protection Committee welcomed the pilot, and said:

"Falkirk and Clackmannanshire and Stirling Child Protection Committees welcome the opportunity to take a proactive approach to identifying where child sexual exploitation may be occurring and to take action to address this.

“The recent cases in Oxford highlight how vulnerable young people can be targeted by unscrupulous adults. All of the agencies who work together to protect children across the Forth Valley want to take positive action to try to prevent our young people being targeted in this way and we are delighted to be working with the Scottish Government to find more effective ways of preventing such abuse of children and young people.”

Notes to editors

In 2012 the Scottish Government commissioned research into the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation and established the first national working group to consider this and a range of important issues.

Responding to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, which is looking at how Child Sexual Exploitation is tackled in Scotland, Ms Campbell said that the updated guidance would take account of the Committee’s work before being finalised.