South East Cambridgeshire MP Sir Jim has called on the Government to amend legislation so that young people are better protected from exploitation.
He was speaking in the House of Commons in support of amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which were the result of a cross-party inquiry into child sexual exploitation. The panel, of which Jim was a member, heard from young victims as well as representatives from the police, legal profession, local authorities and the voluntary sector.
At present, a person is considered to have committed a grooming offence under section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act if they contact the child twice and arrange to meet them, or travel to meet them with the intention of committing a sexual offence.
The proposed clause 2 would mean that a perpetrator could commit a grooming offence with just one contact.Sir Jim said, “It seemed clear from the work of the panel and the evidence that we were given, that reducing from two to one the number of occasions that someone can contact children with a view to exploitation is perfectly sensible and reasonable, and, most importantl, could lead to a reduction in the number of victims.”
Sir Jim also asked that the Government recognize the importance of creating equality between the treatment of children in care and those not in care.
“Although there is undoubtedly evidence that children in care are particularly prone to exploitation, they are more vulnerable; that is a self-evident consequence of being in care there are countless examples of children who are not in care. They are also vulnerable and open to exploitation, and it seems odd that the age limit for those children should be lower than for those in care.”