S Yorks MP calls to tackle child sexual exploitation

Murder victim Laura Wilson, from Rotherham
Murder victim Laura Wilson, from Rotherham

A South Yorkshire MP is calling for ‘safeguarding hubs’ to be mandatory in a bid to tackle child sexual exploitation.

Sarah Champion, who represents Rotherham, expressed concerns in the House of Commons that not enough is being done to tackle child sexual exploitation, claiming the services available were a ‘postcode lottery.’

She urged the Government to make the police, health, education and voluntary sectors work together.

Her comments come following revelations about the extent of child sexual exploitation in her constituency, and a previous lack of action.

Leaked police and council reports revealed that authorities had known of problem for years but failed to act.

Issues in Rotherham emerged after the murder of 17-year-old Laura Wilson, from Holmes, who was stabbed to stabbed to death in October 2010.

She had been identified as being at risk of sexual exploitation six years before she died.

She was in a sexual relationship with her killer, 18-year-old Ashtiaq Asghar, and had been involved with another Asian man, with whom she had a baby.

A serious case review, conducted by Rotherham’s Local Safeguarding Children Board, revealed Laura was referred to a specialist child exploitation project three months before her 11th birthday.

She had been plied with alcohol by men who asked what she could do for them ‘in return’.

Ms Champion said: “It seems clear the only way of tackling child sexual exploitation is by services working collaboratively. The key focus has to be preventing, protecting and pursuing.

“Preventing young people from being a victim, protecting those that show the signs of being at risk and becoming a victim, and pursuing those that commit such horrific crimes.

“To realistically achieve this, the local authority, police, health, voluntary sector and education all need to share their experience, data and resources to effectively tackle and prevent this crime.

“I’m pleased that Rotherham has adopted this working method but extremely concerned that it’s not a requirement across the country. The current situation means that it is genuinely a postcode lottery whether or not you have a good support team in your area.”