Stockport Express Article, New Year 2014

New Year is a time of hope, fresh starts and the belief that things will get better.

At the top of my in-tray this New Year is a very important task, which I am optimistic has the potential to better safeguard children and young people in Greater Manchester.

I have been asked by Tony Lloyd the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner to hold an inquiry into child sexual exploitation following the shocking grooming case in Rochdale, which saw nine men imprisoned for a total of 77 years last year for the abuse of girls in the town.

Since then there have been other cases, including the conviction of three men for the horrific grooming and rape of two teenage girls here in Stockport.

The inquiry will look into what progress has been made in implementing recommendations in Greater Manchester since Rochdale and at what more needs to be done to better protect our children in the future. A key part will listening to children about what they think are the barriers to being able to talk about what is going on in their lives to the agencies that are there to protect them

This of course involves more agencies than the police. We need to think about how all organisations working together with parents and the wider community can ensure better safeguarding of children to prevent these awful crimes happening in the first place.

I have been asked to chair the inquiry because I am chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults. Children who go missing from home or care are at high risk of sexual exploitation.

Although the inquiry will look at mistakes of the past, I will have my eye firmly on making recommendations to build on the progress that has been made and to ensure that the right support is given to children so that they do not end up as victims of sexual exploitation living with their experiences for the rest of their lives.

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