Give councils powers to tackle child sexual exploitation, says LGA

25 Jun 15

Councils should be given powers to intervene in cases where a child is being sexually groomed, the Local Government Association has said.

The LGA wants the upcoming Policing and Criminal Justice Bill to include new disruption orders, which would give authorities intervention powers to react to warning signs and put in place criminal deterrents.

Disruption orders would restrict anyone suspected of grooming children from certain activities, such as being unsupervised in the company of a vulnerable child.

The LGA said that currently, authorities were unable to act when grooming is suspected because no criminal offence has been committed.

“[Child Sexual Exploitation] disruption orders would be similar to Domestic Violence Protection Orders or Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) but tailored to the risks associated with CSE,” the association explained.

“Victims would not be required to testify when an application for an order was heard and a breach of a CSE disruption order would be a criminal offence.”

Reasonable grounds for such orders might be sending a child explicit text messages or emails, supplying a child with alcohol or drugs or removing a child from a locality without parental knowledge or consent.

David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said current sanctions were too limited.

“We need to see a change that makes it easier to intervene earlier, before harm is done,” he said.

“These banning orders would give local authorities the power to disrupt the ability of sexual predators to act. Having the ability to apply swiftly to the courts would allow a legal barrier to be thrown up to prevent grooming from escalating to more serious levels of sexual exploitation that can ruin the lives of children.”

Simmonds added that the LGA was not trying to pass sentence before someone was charged and did not want to prevent people from carrying out their daily activities “but we cannot simply stand by and allow grooming to go unchallenged”.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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