A British charity warns that young people are currently being groomed in “every town” across the UK, while police forces lack skills to deal with the sexual abuse.
Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE) said Wednesday that thousands of children are victimized by grooming.
The charity’s director, Fleur Strong, said in an interview with British media that “a significant number” of British families were currently trying to cope with a child being abused.
“I would say that without doubt there are thousands of families being affected today,” said Strong, adding “This type of child abuse is in every town.”
PACE called on better training of the country’s frontline police officers on how to identify the signs of child sexual exploitation.
In addition, the charity criticized Britain’s legal cut-off age for Child Abduction Warning Notices, which can be used by parents in England and Wales in a bid to prevent a named adult from contacting their child.
Under current legislation, once a child living at home turns 16, the notices no longer have effect.
Paul Sanford, a spokesman for the National Child Protection Working Group, commented on the report, saying the number of abuse cases being probed “presents a real challenge to the police service” both in terms of finance and the number of trained staff.
“We are committed to doing all we can to root it out and prevent any more of the young and vulnerable becoming victims,” Sanford added.
According to estimates by the Children’s Commissioner, some 16,000 children are at high risk of being sexually exploited across the UK.