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Those who turn a blind eye to sexual exploitation will be jailed, announced David Cameron. The PM urges the population to “recognise the horrific nature of what has happened in our country.”
Teachers, councillors and social workers in England and Wales who fail to protect children could face up to five years in jail under the proposals.
United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron outlined plans to tackle child sexual exploitation and accused people and organisations of “walking on by”.
“I think it's very important we take a step back and just recognise the horrific nature of what has happened in our country,” Cameron said.
PLANS TO STOP “NATIONAL THREAT”
New plans, which are going out to consultation, involve making it a criminal offence to wilfully neglect those at risk of, and victims of, child sexual abuse.
Government will classify child sexual abuse as a “national threat”, which will create a duty for police forces to work together across the regions to safeguard children, Cameron's office said. Cameron also announced other measures to improve coordination between public bodies and a helpline to encourage whistleblowers.
2,000 VICTIMS IN OXFORDSHIRE ANS ROTHERHAM
The proposals coincide with the release of a serious case review into the abuse of children in Oxfordshire that found as many as 373 children may have been the victims of sexual grooming in the county over the past 16 years.
The investigation followed the prosecution of a sex gang of seven men who abused girls in Oxford between 2004 and 2012 and found that the police and the local council made “many errors” in that case.
Another case happened in Rotherham, northern England, where some 1,400 children, some as young as 11, were abused by gangs of men.
“I've just spent half an hour with some of the survivors of abuse in Rotherham and these are stories that are going to stay with me forever. They are absolutely horrific,” Cameron said at a meeting of victim groups, police and child protection experts held in his official London residence.
“Young girls being abused over and over again on an industrial scale, being raped, being passed from one bunch of perpetrators to another bunch of perpetrators.”
“If professionals fail,” Cameron added, then “there need to be consequences".
EVANGELICALS: PLANS MUST INCLUDE EVERYONE WORKING IN CHURCHES
The United Kingdom Evangelical Alliance (EAUK) welcomed these plans as did other Christian organisations.
“Mr Cameron's announcement reflects both how endemic this form of abuse has become across the UK and how urgently we need to address it,” said Simon Bass, chief executive of The Churches’ Child Protection Advirsoy Service (CCPAS), a member of the EAUK.
“The proposal to hold senior public sector officials accountable when they have wilfully neglected children is a very welcome direction of travel, but it must include others with duties of care to children as well.”
“This must include everyone who works with them in churches and places of worship."
CCPAS hopes that this will be a “watershed in establishing another key plank in child safeguarding”.
Commenting on government’s plans Mr Bass added he would be concerned if the proposals were used “merely to facilitate witch-hunts against social workers, police officers or church leaders.”
“The nub of wilful neglect is intent – precisely why did someone not report suspected abuse? If it can be proved that they failed to act because they were protecting the reputation of an institution, or high profile individuals within it, that should be the criminal element.”
The EAUK and CCPAS are working together to assist all Alliance member churches and organisations in ensuring that they are safe places for both children and adults at risk, the EAUK said in a statement.