Not an easy fight, but the right fight

Anne Marie Carrie is Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, who have asked for this article to be posted on the same day as it is featured on the Huffington Post


In opening up law enforcement to public influence we must guard against the temptation to opt for populist policies which risk sidelining the youngest and most vulnerable victims.


The Government’s introduction of police and crime commissioners in England and Wales will be a powerful channel for communities to voice their views and hold forces to account.


But, with electioneering for the first 41 underway, candidates must make sure that they are clear in their own hearts and minds that they will not lose sight of the most fragile in the clamour to win office.


Right now we have a marvellous opportunity to make serious gains in the fight against child sexual exploitation.


However, I am concerned that there may be commissioner candidates who are presently ill prepared for the decisions they are going to have to make. It will be difficult for them to avoid focussing on the loudest voices, whilst those who find it hard to speak up for themselves remain silenced.


Children and young people are particularly at risk of being overlooked. They do not have a voice in elections because they cannot vote and they are more often seen as causing crime, than as victims of it, despite youth offending rates falling for years.


That’s why charities like Barnardo’s and its supporters have a duty to speak up on their behalf.


Police prosecutions of men who sexually exploit children are rising, but sadly we are now working with more boys and girls who are abused in this way than ever – up 8.4 per cent on last year. There is still a worrying lack of awareness of this issue across the board.


It isn’t an easy fight, but it’s the right fight.


This abuse is complex and largely underground; 1 in 6 young people we have worked with have been trafficked around the country, rising to 1 in 2 in some areas, and there are cases where the perpetrator is a victim too. This is why Barnardo’s wants to support commissioners as much as possible to get it right.


The more we learn from each other and understand how to tackle child sexual exploitation, the more chance we have in stopping this scourge on our society.


At Barnardo’s we are asking candidates to sign up to our ‘cut them free’ campaign and if elected take the necessary steps to tackle this abuse within their Police and Crime Plan. So far 36 candidates have already made that pledge, and whilst not all those who will join the race have declared, we still have a long way to go before polling day on November 15.


The east and north east regions are seriously lagging behind in support of our campaign to prevent sexual exploitation. Worryingly only two candidates in Yorkshire have signed up, despite this crime having a high profile in the region where serious failings to stop this kind of abuse were recently exposed and five Rotherham men were jailed in 2010 for a total of 32-and-half years for sexually abusing and grooming girls as young as 12.


We have made ourselves available at Barnardo’s to work with police and crime commissioners to support them to understand this difficult issue and respond in the right way. We want government to work with commissioners to ensure they are tuned in to the national efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation so we see real improvements in preventing this horrible crime.


We will never tire in our fight for the right of the voices of these vulnerable boys and girls to be heard.



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3 Responses to Not an easy fight, but the right fight

  1. Gillian Radcliffe says:

    Please make a real commitment to this cause. Before I withdrew as a PCC candidate, it was a major part of my manifesto to make decisions that would best protect the most vulnerable members of the communities of South Yorkshire. That was before The Times revelations of organised child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, though I’d already heard the rumours. I have been appalled to learn of the failings of local safeguarding agencies for a decade. We have yet to learn who knew what and when and exactly what each of the agencies did to respond to the problems. There were some prosecutions by police but not enough. The problem did not go away.
    We need much closer scrutiny to hold to account those who failed these children. If you follow my Twitter feed (@gillradcliffe), you will know that this is something that I’ve taken to heart and, as an informed local voter and someone who is passionate about the quality of public services, I want to see the elected PCC taking swift action.
    The matter is somewhat complicated by the fact that the leading candidate, Labour’s Shaun Wright, was in charge of children’s services in Rotherham during the period when these abuses were prevalent so he will need more than words to convince many of us of his commitment to this cause.
    Those of you who are elected as PCC can make an enormous difference to the response to problem of child abuse. Please support Barnardo’s work and listen to their advice on a subject in which they are experts.

  2. Ken Little says:

    Ann Marie Carrie said “This abuse is complex and largely underground; 1 in 6 young people we have worked with have been trafficked around the country, rising to 1 in 2 in some areas, and there are cases where the perpetrator is a victim too”.

    Ann Marie Carrie said “This abuse is complex and largely underground; 1 in 6 young people we have worked with have been trafficked around the country, rising to 1 in 2 in some areas, and there are cases where the perpetrator is a victim too”.
    Adding-,”The more we learn from each other and understand how to tackle child sexual exploitation, the more chance we have in stopping this scourge on our society”.

    The facts produced by Barnardo’s are appalling; it appears we have learnt nothing from the facts.

    Until we openly recognize the problem and set about resolving it, it will remain hidden or underground as Ann Carrie indicates. We are ALL to blame that has to include politicians, social services departments, local authorities, the Police, and border control.

    I am told in Kent we have 20 children homes in Clifftonville, Sir Roger Gale says “cheek to bone next door to pedophiles”! What a statement IF true and is anyone listening?

    When I made an enquiry about these homes to Kent Police there response was-; “ we may be able to provide information on the number of crimes committed in East Kent Children Homes however we would need to be provided with a date range and details of the specific homes you are interested in. To establish whether the incident involved potential abuse or neglect (i.e. where a member of staff was the offender) could potentially exceed the Freedom of Information cost limit (18 hours work) depending on the number of locations you specify. Other exemptions relating to Law Enforcement and Personal Information may also be engaged”

    I am told that Kent police {I assume the same elsewhere} are not advised of the children arriving, or leaving “children’s homes” in their area, they {children} only become “highlighted” if an alleged crime has occurred against the child, or {children} wherever that may have been, {if reported and or acted upon by the police}.

    So what have I learnt from this in this short time?

    I can say this-, It all remains a secrecy. It will remain underground unless we are willing to address the issue of Openness’, Transparency, and Accountability from ALL the people and departments involved in this appalling continuous “hidden” situation.
    We need to pull “together” for example if London boroughs are “dumping” vulnerable children in Kent then I want to know-, how many, when they arrived, when they anticipate a return home, who is accountable for them whilst in Kent, who monitors there time at this homes, who owns these homes, who runs them, why are Kent Police not told by their partners KCC of the number of homes or children, the list is endless.

    To learn anything the first thing we need to do is listen.
    Who is available to listen to the vulnerable children in Kent? I do not know IF anyone is simply because it appears nobody knows how many children we have, whether they are still in Kent, or back home, etc.

    Kent Police Authority had adopted the position of having no 24hr Victims support unit available, but we can allow 20 homes for vulnerable children that may be “victims” {reason for being in Kent} yet we make no provision for them other than “housing” them, and even then we are not sure we are!

    I am totally disgusted by what I have learnt so far, and for me I see nothing learnt by these “authorities” of the history of vulnerable children for years, and years.

    We will hear all the rhetoric from the “parties” including the potential PCC who will want your vote but unless the Chief Constables in any given area are serious about children welfare {I do not see that in Kent} then nothing will change no matter what any potential PCC tells you, you only have to look to Yorkshire for that as another historical fact.

    Ken Little Prospective PCC candidate for Kent.

  3. Richard Enderby says:

    I fully support what your organisation is doing and your right to highlight it. The point I want to make is that every pressure type body in the country is/will be lobbying PCCS. They and the police have to use their totally inadequate resources for everyone and I would be very disappointed if a PCC showed favouritism to one. All bodies should lobby Govt to give the police more resources in my opinion so they can really seek to look after society crimewise

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