Hundreds of children at risk of sexual exploitation have not yet been identified by the authorities, a new report has warned.
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported in different areas across the country, as it reviews efforts to tackle abuse by gangs and groups.
In one cluster of nine local authorities with similar demographics and deprivation levels, rates varied as much as one in 10,000 children to 65 in 10,000 children.
Fewer than half – 48 per cent – of local children’s safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all.
Chairman of the inquiry and deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, said while many authorities were making good progress, it often had not yet filtered down to those on the front line.
Campaigns director at the Children’s Society, Peter Grigg, said he hoped the report would serve as a “wake-up call” to police and social services.
In its latest report, the OCC said it was “worrying” that previous recommendations to improve personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons in schools, and to make the classes a statutory part of the curriculum, had not yet been approved by the government.
It comes as MPs sitting on the education select committee made similar calls, and recommended sex and relationships should feature as a major component of the classes.