Cambs MP calls for change in law to help protect youngsters from exploitation

14:52 16 May 2014

Sir Jim Paice speaking in Parliament

Sir Jim Paice speaking in Parliament

Archant

MP Sir Jim Paice has called on the Government to amend legislation so that young people are better protected from exploitation.

He was speaking in the House of Commons this week in support of amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which were the result of an inquiry into child sexual exploitation.

The panel, of which the SE Cambs MP was a member, heard from young victims as well as representatives from police, the legal profession, local authorities and the voluntary sector.

At present, a person is considered to have committed a grooming offence under section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act if they contact the child twice and arrange to meet them, or travel to meet them with the intention of committing a sexual offence.

The proposed clause 2 would mean that a perpetrator could commit a grooming offence with just one contact.

Sir Jim said: “It seemed clear from the work of the panel, and the evidence that we were given, that reducing from two to one the number of occasions that someone can contact children with a view to exploitation is perfectly sensible and reasonable.

“Most importantly, it could lead to a reduction in the number of victims.”

Sir Jim also asked that the Government recognises the importance of creating equality between the treatment of children in care and those not in care.

He said: “Children in care are particularly prone to exploitation — they are more vulnerable and that is a self-evident consequence of being in care.

“But children who are not in care are also vulnerable and open to exploitation and it seems odd that the age limit for those children should be lower than for those in care.”

Responding on behalf of the Government, Jeremy Wright MP expressed sympathy with Sir Jim’s views and promised to look carefully at the issues the clause 2 amendment raises.

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