A summer report from Barnardo’s has revealed that police records of child sexual exploitation dip by over a fifth during school holidays.
The report Invisible Children shows there is increased risk of sexual and criminal exploitation when children are away from professionals and trusted adults. Barnardo’s are concerned that this data indicates exploitation during these periods is far less likely to be identified and reported.
Adam from Leaders Unlocked said: ‘Teachers spend the vast majority of their time with young people so they’re the ones who are really going to spot when something is wrong.’
The report also showed a lack of support services available to victims. Data revealed that 68% of local authorities and 39% of Police and Crime Commissioners in the UK have not commissioned any specialist services over the last 12 months. Therefore, many victims of exploitation over the current holiday may not get the support they need.
‘We must work together to understand and respond to risks children face in their communities, no matter what school, group or club they attend,’ said Ian Critchley of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Child Protection and Abuse Investigation. ‘We value the referrals made by schools and voluntary organisations, and the importance of information sharing across agencies to safeguard our young people is a key focus for policing and our partners.’
General Secretary of the Teachers’ Union Dr Patrick Roach added: ‘This report raises some important questions about the role and responsibility of government in ensuring that children and families have timely access to services beyond schools that are equipped and resourced to ensure the safety of children and young people when schools are open and when they are not.’
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