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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Girls 'traded for sex from takeaways, taxis and betting shops in routine way'

Written by Dan O'Donoghue

Young white working class girls are being traded for sex in "a routine way", Telford's MP has told ministers.

Tory Lucy Allan made the comment after it was estimated up to 1,000 children could have fallen victim to abusers in her constituency over a 40-year period.

Abuse in the Shropshire town, which dates back to the 1980s, is said to include cases involving girls as young as 11 who were drugged, beaten and raped.

Ms Allan, speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on the rights of victims of crime, said she believed if the victims had been from a different background "we would not have the cases that we're seeing in Telford, in Rotherham, in Oxford".

She said: "These young girls are too often white working class with multiple vulnerabilities and that is why the perpetrators are targeting them.

"It is also why so often they are miscast as bringing it on themselves, they are miscast as indulging in risky behaviour, as being promiscuous, as somehow being to blame for what is happening to them and in their own minds so often they also internalise that sense that they are somehow at fault."

She added: "I worry that a difficult family background or drugs and alcohol at home or mental health issues that are going on at home that maybe they're thought of as 'well they're trouble makers, maybe they're just a bit too difficult anyway' and maybe that's why these crimes were not identified for quite so long.

"Had those girls been from a different background, had they been able to articulate more clearly what it was that was happening to them, had they been able to identify that it was a crime then I think perhaps we would not have the cases that we're seeing in Telford, in Rotherham, in Oxford.

"How did it happen that our young girls are being traded for sex in what is becoming a routine way, whether it's from takeaways or taxis or betting shops its happening in our streets.

Ms Allan previously called for a Rotherham-style inquiry into the allegations and again at the debate she called on ministers to launch an independent inquiry.

Justice Minister Phillip Lee praised Ms Allan for her contribution, saying "strong women" in this area were needed to provide "leadership that is desperately required".

He added: "Child sexual abuse is, I think, the worst of all crimes.

"She should know in my long tenure at university of nine years one of my theses, I think it was about 1992, was on the psychology of the child sex offender.

"I remember in 1992 being somewhat sceptical of the incidents that academic literature was quoting on the number of children in our society that were being physically, sexually and emotionally abused.

"Sadly, that academic literature has turned out to be more accurate than I can ever have imagined."

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