MSPs launch enquiry into child sexual exploitation

Date: 25th September 2012
Category: Access to appropriate information

A Committee of MSPs is set to launch an inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Scotland following a high-profile charity campaign.

Barnardo's Scotland welcomed the news, which came in response to a campaign and petition it launched 18 months ago.

It argues that sexual exploitation is a particularly hidden form of child sexual abuse, and that more work needs to be done to tackle it in Scotland.

Sexual exploitation can take a variety of forms, from organised exploitation by gangs, to informal exchanges of sex for drugs, alcohol or accommodation, explains the charity. However, whatever form it takes, children who are sexually exploited often suffer severe trauma and psychological damage.

David Stewart MSP, convener of the Scottish Parliament's public petitions committee, highlighted the cross-cutting nature of the issues raised by Barnardo's Scotland, and suggested that an inquiry would be the appropriate next step in the petition process.

Other committee members noted the increasing concern around child sexual exploitation in Scotland, the difficulty young victims can have in escaping from their exploitation and the importance of social media. Barnardo's Scotland services that seek to tackle sexual exploitation were also praised by members.

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo's Scotland said: "We are very pleased the petitions committee has decided to conduct a full inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children in Scotland.

"This follows the Barnardo's Scotland Petition to the Parliament, which was supported by over 3,000 people from across Scotland. Our work with young victims of child sexual exploitation shows that the sexual exploitation of children in Scotland is becoming increasingly organised. That is why we urgently need more information about the nature and scale of child sexual exploitation in Scotland, and concerted action to tackle it."