Fresh approach will relentlessly go after abusers, whilst better protecting victims and survivors.
The Home Secretary has today published a first-of-its-kind national strategy to protect children from all forms of child sexual abuse.
The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy sets out how the Government will use new legislation and enhanced technology to stop offenders in their tracks.
This includes investing in the UK’s world-leading Child Abuse Image Database to identify and catch more offenders quicker – for example, by using new tools to speed up police investigations and protecting officers’ wellbeing by avoiding them being repeatedly exposed to indecent images.
The Home Office will make it easier for parents and carers to ask the police if someone has a criminal record for child sexual offences as the department commits to a review of Sarah’s Law.
These measures are on top of civil orders to stop reoffending and introducing stronger sentencing so that serious violent and sexual offenders remain in prison for longer.
The Government will support local areas to improve their response to exploitation with funding for The Children’s Society’s Prevention Programme initiative, and will introduce the ground-breaking Online Safety Bill to ensure that technology companies are held to account for harmful content on their sites, and do not compromise on children’s safety.
The publication comes as new Home Office research estimates that the social and economic cost of the crime over the victims’ lifetimes was at least a staggering £10 billion for the victims who experienced child sexual abuse in the year ending March 2019, with the full emotional cost being immeasurable.
The Strategy also aims to improve the data that is available on offenders following the publication of the paper on the characteristics of group-based offending which found that it was difficult to draw conclusions about the ethnicity of offenders as existing research is limited and data collection is poor.
This commitment includes working with local authorities to understand and respond to threats within their communities and collecting higher quality data on offenders so that the government can build a fuller picture on the characteristics of perpetrators and help tackle the abuse that has blighted many towns and cities in England.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
The group-based offending paper demonstrates how difficult it has been to draw conclusions about the characteristics of offenders. That is why the government’s forthcoming Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy will commit to improving our understanding of child sexual abuse – including around ethnicity.
This will enable us to better understand any community and cultural factors relevant to tackling offending – helping us to safeguard children from abuse, deliver justice for victims and survivors, and restore the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system’s ability to confront this issue.
The Strategy drives action across every part of government, across all agencies, all sectors, charities, communities, technology companies and society more widely to stop abusers and place victims and survivors at the centre of the approach.
Rob Jones, NCA Director of Threat Leadership, said:
The government remains at the forefront of international efforts combat CSA, working with partners overseas to strengthen child protection systems in countries where children are particularly at risk, and clamp down in individuals who travel abroad to rape and abuse children.
In addition to the ground-breaking Online Safety Bill that will tackle online harms, the government has also asked GCHQ to work with the tech industry, to identify and develop solutions to crack down on large scale online child sexual abuse.
GCHQ’s Director of Serious and Organised Crime said:
As part of the publication, the Safeguarding Minister virtually visited the NSPCC on Thursday and spoke to staff in Sheffield and Camden about their Letting the Future In service which uses therapeutic art and play to help children move on from abuse and recover with the support of parents and families.
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said:
Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation added: