MP SARAH Champion will have her sights set on closing a legal loophole leaving children at risk of sexual abuse when she leads a parliamentary debate tomorrow.
The CSE campaigner aims to bring to MPs’ attention the fact that predators working in positions of trust with children aged 16 and 17 can escape prosecution under the current law.
The 2003 Sexual Offences Act currently prohibits individuals in defined roles such as teachers or social workers from exploiting their position but does not include other adults with similar influence, such as sports coaches or faith leaders, leaving children in non-statutory settings vulnerable to abuse.
In 2019, the Ministry of Justice conducted a review into the law and stated they should be able to announce next steps in May 2020 but no announcement was forthcoming.
Ms Champion, who is the founding chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on safeguarding in faith settings, said: “Parents are right to expect the same legal protections sending their child to a youth centre or religious group as they would sending them to school.
“The Government must act to close a legal loophole that allows adults in positions of trust outside of a statutory setting to get away with abusing teenagers.
“Protecting children and young people from harm should be one of the Government's top priorities.
“It’s clear from my work with survivors and child protection specialists that robust legislation needs to be in place to tackle the abhorrent abuse happening right now.
“I’ve repeatedly made it clear to the Government that this legal loophole allows abusers to act with impunity.
“If the Government is serious about showing zero tolerance to child abuse, they must act to change the law.”