Ann Coffey MP today urged young people, victims, their families and the whole community to give her their views about what more can be done to prevent child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester.
Ms Coffey has been asked by Tony Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, to conduct an inquiry into responses to child sexual exploitation following the shocking Rochdale sexual grooming case.
Tony Lloyd also urged people to give Ms Coffey their views.
Mr Lloyd said:
“This is one of the most important issues that face our communities and I really hope that people will come forward to Ann with their experiences. We’ve got a real chance here to make a difference to children’s lives not just in Greater Manchester but across the country.”
“This inquiry will, of course, look at the mistakes of the past but it will also look at the changes that have been made and what more can be done to keep our children safe. I urge people to give their views to this important inquiry.”
“I am grateful that Ann Coffey has agreed to carry out this inquiry as she has considerable expertise in the field.
Today, Ms Coffey launched the Terms of Reference of her inquiry, which said:
“This inquiry will focus on what changes have been made in safeguarding children from sexual exploitation by Greater Manchester Police and partner agencies since the Rochdale sexual grooming case and at what more needs to be done in the future.
“One of the key issues in the Rochdale case was the failure of police and partner agencies to listen properly to young victims and their families and to adequately respond to them.
“It is clear that victims in Rochdale and elsewhere were not identified or taken seriously because of negative and discriminatory attitudes of the police and other partner agencies towards them. Their behaviour was seen as a life style choice and because of that they were not seen as vulnerable children and were not given the protection they should have expected from organisations with a responsibility to safeguard them.
“I will be focusing on how far these attitudes and cultures within organisations have changed and at what barriers still remain to be overcome. How much better are the police and other agencies at identifying risk of child sexual exploitation at an early stage and preventing harm coming to children, particularly when they runaway or go missing?
“The police and other agencies cannot protect children without the support of the wider community so I want to explore how we can engage communities in the fight against CSE in Greater Manchester.
“What has changed in terms of involving schools in informing young people about the risk of child sexual exploitation and educating boys to understand issues of consent?
“I want to hear from victims, their families and the public and will be consulting widely and I would like people to contact me and let me know their views. I want to know what motivates the offenders and brings groups together to exploit children.
“At the end I would like to have recommendations that build on what we have learnt from the past and will improve awareness and understanding of CSE across Greater Manchester.”
Ms Coffey, who is the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, said:
“We need to make sure the whole community is engaged in this fight against child sexual exploitation and that the experience of victims and their families are taken seriously so that we can develop a proper response to child sexual exploitation in our community.”