OCTOBER 18, 2018
Manchester Crown Court in Minshull Street is one of the slowest courts in England and Wales for processing child sexual offences.
Ann Coffey, MP for Stockport, and author of two reports on child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester, said the six month long delays were ‘unacceptable’ and ‘torture for victims’.
She said the latest figures were very disappointing and called for urgent action to speed up the process for victims.
Ms Coffey asked the Ministry of Justice how long delays were for each of the 74 Crown Courts in the country for child sexual offences from when the case was first received by the Crown Court to the main hearing.
The Parliamentary Answer (avaliable here) revealed Minshull Street in Manchester had the seventh highest average waiting time in the country.
This week Stockport’s Child Sexual Exploitation team will be distributing information to parents and carers about signs to look out for which might be an indication that a child is being groomed for sexual exploitation and where they can go for help if they are concerned about the behaviour of their child.
Those who wish to exploit children use a number of approaches. Most grooming starts on-line with the intention of enticing the child to send sexual images or with the aim of arranging a meeting for sex.
Sometimes children are exploited by groups of men trafficked to different places, sometimes the sexual offences against the child take place at parties. The child can feel reluctant to say what has happened because they feel they might be blamed because they have been drinking or they feel people might think they have consented.
Sometimes those who exploit children are only in their late teens themselves. Although the majority of victims are girls, boys can also be victims. There is still too much blaming of the child for their exploitation. A child is a child whatever they dress like and it is those that exploit the vulnerability of childhood that should be held responsible.
Exploitation of the immaturity of children for sexual gain no matter what form that takes is a vicious offence. For the victim it can lead to lifelong trauma.
It is much better to prevent the exploitation in the first place. This looks like a great week of action by the police and other professionals with different events to inform and support parents and carers including in Cale Green Park on Saturday.
Protecting our children needs well informed parents and a watchful community. We all have a responsibility to keep children safe.
Below is my interview with Radio 5 Live on May 8th 2018. I was asked to speak following my parliamentary debate on children missing from care.
I spoke in Parliament about the soaring numbers of vulnerable children being forced to live in children’s homes many miles away and the rise in missing incidents.
Since 2012, the number of children in Children’s Homes who are placed out of their local area has soared by 64%. This means that 61% of children in Children’s Homes are now sent to live outside their Borough.
The All Party Group for runaway and missing children and adults heard that these vulnerable children are more likely to go missing. By going missing they are at greater risk of sexual exploitation and grooming by criminal gangs to supply firearms and drugs.
Since 2015, the number of missing incidents involving these children has skyrocketed by 110%.
Last month in Stockport, 65% of children who went missing from Stockport Care Homes were placed by other authorities.
For more information please read the full press release here.