National children’s charity urges Government to take action following rise in grooming in Norfolk
- Credit: PA
A national children's charity is calling on the Government to take more action in the battle against grooming.
It comes following new statistics which show the number of abusers meeting children after grooming them has more than tripled in five years.
Now the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is calling on the Government to bring in anti-grooming legislation that was created two years ago today (Friday) but is not yet in force.
Currently adults cannot be arrested or prosecuted for sending sexual messages to children.
Nationally police recorded 1,122 offences of meeting a child following sexual grooming in the year to September 2016. This was up from 345 in 2010/11, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
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In Norfolk that figure rose from one case in 2015/16 to six in 2016/17.
But despite this sharp increase in abusers meeting up with young people they have groomed, the Government has not yet brought in a law that would allow police to intervene much sooner.
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Section 67 of the Serious Crime Act would make it illegal for an adult to send a sexual communication to a child. In order to bring this law into action justice secretary Elizabeth Truss would need to sign paperwork before sending it on to Parliament.
The NSPCC's chief executive Peter Wanless said: 'It is an utter disgrace that more and more sexual predators are meeting children after grooming them but they cannot be arrested for grooming.
'Police are having to rely on other offences which means that they can't intervene until a later stage in the abuse – which in some tragic cases is too late.
'The Government's two-year delay in bringing this law into force is shameful, and unexplained. We urge the Government to stop dragging its feet and enact this law immediately to stop sex abuse before it starts.'
The NSPCC campaign Flaw in the Law saw more than 50,000 people sign its petition to fix the loophole in the law.
· For more information about the charity and campaign visit www.nspcc.org.uk/fighting-for-childhood/campaigns/flaw-law/ or follow the hashtag #FlawintheLaw on social media.
Victim speaks out about her ordeal:
One 15-year-old child contacted the NSPCC after she received sexual messages from a friend of her father from a youth group she attended.
Molly*, not her real name, said: 'Gavin* added me as a friend on Facebook and I didn't think anything of it as he was friends with my brother and my dad too and we often saw his family. He got my telephone number off Facebook and started texting me too.'
Gavin started telling Molly she was pretty and that he couldn't stop thinking about her.
'His messages started to get more sexual too and he would tell me he was talking to me from his bed.
'It was gross as he knew how young I was.
'I think a change in the law would help a lot of young people who are receiving sexual messages from adults.'
*Names in this article have been changed to protect anonymity.