Child sex exploitation report due

Andover Advertiser: Michael Gove said the interim report will help 'make the changes we need to keep children safe' Michael Gove said the interim report will help 'make the changes we need to keep children safe'

An interim report on child sexual exploitation by gangs and groups will be published next Wednesday.

The two-year inquiry ordered by the Government was launched in October last year. The probe led by Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz is expected next week to highlight the patterns of offending across England as recommendations are made to tackle the problem.

A number of newspaper reports say it will state that such exploitation is carried out by men of all backgrounds, with no particular emphasis on crimes being committed by groups of Asian men.

In May, nine Asian men who groomed white girls as young as 13 in Rochdale with drink and drugs were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court. Judge Gerald Clifton told the defendants one of the reasons they targeted their victims was because they were not part of their community or religion.

Both the Children's Commissioner office and the Department of Education said they would not comment on details of the report until its publication.

When launching the report last year, Ms Berelowitz said it would be wrong to assume it was an issue for one particular ethnic community.

She said: "The emerging demographic of the children and perpetrators involved is very diverse and seems to reflect the local demographic of where the abuse is taking place."

Following September's report by authorities in Rochdale into the multi-agency response to child exploitation in the town, she commented: "An interim report from the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry will be published in November where, for the first time, we will bring a national perspective to these appalling acts against children. Most importantly, the interim report will give professionals solid evidence of the warning signs that should alert them that a child is at risk of being sexually exploited. Acting on these warning signs is imperative.

"It is critical that statutory agencies listen to children when they tell people that they are being abused and that these allegations are taken extremely seriously. They have an absolute responsibility in law to protect children."

On Friday, Education Secretary Michael Gove referred to next week's interim report in a speech on child protection in which he said it would help "make the changes we need to keep children safe".

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