Rotherham MP attacks Government over lack of CSE taskforce progress

SARAH Champion has criticised the Government for dragging its feet on a national CSE taskforce it promised nearly a year ago.

The new measure was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron after the Rotherham MP led an inquiry alongside children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The inquiry called for a small permanent team to act as a national resource when organised child abuse issues emerge, like is done with slavery and arranged marriage.

The Government held a CSE summit and pledged to establish the taskforce in an announcement on March 3 last year, saying the team would be deployed around the country where needed.

Ms Champion, shadow minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence, said: “It’s appalling we still don’t have a national taskforce for tackling child sexual exploitation.

“For the last 18 months I have been raising the urgent need for a national taskforce.

“At the summit in March last year I was pleased to see the Government make a commitment to establishing such a taskforce.    

“But they haven’t delivered on that pledge, or others to protect victims.  A year on and we still don’t have details on the scope, constitution or objective of this taskforce. It’s simply not good enough as it is letting the most vulnerable down.”

The Government also promised a new whistleblowing portal to bring CSE to light and spot patterns, and consultation on extending the offence of wilful neglect to children’s social care, education and councillors.

Karen Bradley, minister for preventing abuse, exploitation and crime, said: “We are currently finalising the way the taskforce, to be known as the Child Sexual Exploitation Response Unit, will work. The response unit will be launched in the spring.

“The response unit will provide help to local areas experiencing particular issues or high volumes of child sexual exploitation cases by offering a range of support including advice from expert practitioners.”

Ms Bradley said a 12-week consultation considering the child neglect offence changes would also launch this spring.

She added: “This will enable the Government to lay proposals before Parliament by September 2016, as it has committed to do.”

Ms Champion’s inquiry also called for mandatory PSHE classes about healthy relationships from Key Stage 1.