PLANS to tackle the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children show the government’s hypocrisy, Labour said yesterday, pointing out that billions of pounds have been cut from the public services that are designed to safeguard them.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said that a scheme to create a national database to keep track of missing children would “barely scratch the surface.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced on Thursday that £40 million would be spent on the National Missing Persons Register to allow police forces to share information about missing adults and children from 2018.
She said this would bolster authorities’ efforts to prevent a repeat of abuse scandals such as those seen in Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford.
Ms Abbott responded: “This government’s hypocrisy is startling. Councils will face a £1.9 billion funding gap in children’s services by 2020 and while this £40 million injection is welcome, it barely scratches the surface.
“The reality is that the crippling cuts have demoralised and damaged the capacity of child protection services to protect vulnerable children.
“Coupled with the shambolic handling of the inquiry into historic child sex abuse, the treatment of the victims of child sex abuse and vulnerable children is inadequate and irresponsible.
“It is unclear how the government can prove they take this task seriously with their planned £1.9 billion funding gap.”
Children and young people accounted for over half of 382,855 missing persons reports to police in 2015-16 — with 94 per cent of them aged between 12 and 17.
The government scheme will also see the National Crime Agency receive £20 million, a new “centre of expertise” launched and £2.2 million handed to charities working to protect children at risk of trafficking.
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