TRIGGER WARNING: This petition contains details of sexual assault that may be triggering to some people.
‘Hidden in plain view within their communities, thousands of vulnerable children across the UK are being cynically targeted, groomed and subjected to appalling sexual abuse by paedophiles and organised gangs. These children have irrevocably lost their childhood.
As an Oxford MP, I saw for myself the appalling devastation caused by child sexual exploitation when it emerged that a violent gang had been grooming and sexually abusing children in Oxford for at least eight years.
Even after all those years of abuse, six victims bravely appeared as witnesses in the five-month trial at the Old Bailey earlier this year.
Groomed to be sold for sex from as young as eleven years old, the victims’ evidence included graphic detail about being plied with drugs and repeatedly raped by strangers. All victims described violent treatment at the hands of their abusers including being tied up, bitten, scratched, assaulted with instruments and being threatened and humiliated.
The victims’ courageous testimony led to the conviction of seven men. Five of them were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Sadly though, this case was far from unique. Many cities across the country - Rochdale, Rotherham, Telford, Coventry, Leicester, High Wycombe - have seen their own tragic cases of child sexual exploitation.
That it why, with the support of the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, Pace, ECPAT, Save the Children, OXCAT and others, I am calling on the Prime Minister to implement a 6-point action plan to stop child sexual exploitation in the UK.
STEP 1: Introduce new child sexual abuse prevention orders to give police the power to prevent sex offenders abusing children
STEP 2: Make sure local areas set up the specialist child sexual exploitation centres needed to identify and protect victims
STEP 3: Give judges clear guidance on sentencing complex child sexual exploitation cases
STEP 4: Reform courts so that very vulnerable witnesses in child sexual abuse cases are no longer traumatised by giving evidence
STEP 5: Give the Education Secretary the power to order the publication of Serious Case Reviews
STEP 6: End the postcode lottery of support for victims of child sexual exploitation
Please sign the petition and add your voice to those of us calling for action to drive child sexual exploitation from our streets.
This petition is part of the CHILDHOOD LOST campaign. Find out more at www.childhoodlost.co.uk and @childhood_lost
Images used are posed by models.