Grooming Gang Epidemic: Nearly 19,000 Children Sexually Exploited in the UK Last Year

The scourge of sexual exploitation of children has reached “epidemic” levels in the United Kingdom, as nearly 19,000 children were sexually groomed over the past year.

Local authorities have reported over 18,700 suspected victims of child sexual exploitation at the hands of grooming gangs between 2018-19, more than five times higher than the 3,300 reported cases just five years ago.

Sammy Woodhouse, a victim of the Rotherham rapist Arshid Hussain, said that the authorities have not implemented meaningful changes in combatting the crisis.

“You hear this bullshit line, ‘lessons have been learned’, but they haven’t learned anything”, she told The Independent.

“I still hear a lot about the authorities aren’t doing things as they should. It’s not very often I hear something good and for all different reasons – if the police won’t act on reports, people feel they’re not being listened to or supported properly, or information not being shared”, she added.

“I’ve said for years that this country’s in epidemic when it comes to abuse and exploitation. Authorities claim it’s under control but it’s not”, Woodhouse concluded.

Lancashire was the locality hit the hardest last year, with a total of 624 suspected victims, followed by Birmingham with 490, 447 in Surrey, 414 in Bradford and 409 in Gloucestershire. Thousands of more cases of abuse have been discovered across the country over the past decade, especially as the scandals of predominantly Pakistani male child rape gangs have been exposed.

The Labour MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, said that the figures demonstrate that grooming “remains one of the largest forms of child abuse in the country”.

“The government has singularly failed to tackle this issue head-on. Its approach has been piecemeal and underfunded”, she said.

The Home Office has allocated 7 million pounds to support survivors of child sex abuse for 2019-20 and has set up investigations into the institutional responses to the scandals in Rotherham and Norfolk, with a series of public hearings expected in the spring of 2020.

“The Home Office is committed to tackling child sexual abuse and will leave no stone unturned in tackling this abhorrent behaviour”, a spokesperson said.

“This is why we launched the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse to get to the truth, expose what has gone wrong and learn lessons for the future. The inquiry operates independently of government and, within its terms of reference, decides for itself what it investigates”, the spokesperson added.