The police don’t understand the law when it comes to child grooming, they don’t understand the psychological impact of grooming on the victim and the government should consider making changes to the law to safeguard young victims of depraved sexual abuse, Lucy Allan MP has said.
In a statement in Parliament today, the MP for Telford, which was the scene of one of Britain’s largest ever child grooming scandals, gave a harrowing account of how police have failed to do enough to combat abuse in the area.
She described a recent case where a 13-year-old girl was raped and abused by multiple men, even falling pregnant to one of them. The men were arrested, but no charges were brought because the girl couldn’t prove she had not consented and the men were able to say they reasonably believed she was over 16-years-old.
The police didn’t even realise these men were connected to each other…
Allan said: “Anyone listening to this debate will be astonished that a child as young as 13 can be targeted and groomed for sex by multiple men and the men can say to the police by way of defence ‘I had no reason to believe that she did not consent or that she was not 16’ and, unless the victim can show otherwise, the police may not have the perpetrator charged at all.
“The victim in this case, and her family, were dismissed by authorities more or less on the say so of the perpetrators. I would ask the Minister to consider whether in the light of what we now know today about grooming and child sexual exploitation whether it is time to update both guidance to police and the Child Sexual Offences Act of 2003, particularly when it comes to a definition of consent.
“This particular case is a recent case, not historic, and it’s essential that police actively look for evidence of grooming that they then can pass onto the CPS. Most children in these circumstances are unlikely to know what’s happening is grooming.
“It must now be considered if the law is protecting young people from grooming and exploitation. We can’t keep wringing our hands and saying as each case comes to light how horrific it is. If the law does not protect our children from being groomed then we must update the law.”
What is especially bad about this is that the Home Office didn’t send a representative to listen to Lucy Allan today – although it has now emerged the Telford MP has secured a review into this case as a result of her hard work in highlighting the issue.
It’s absolutely disgraceful that, as a society, Britain is failing to protect some of the most vulnerable young girls. They have been badly let down by police and politicians for far too long.