Islington child sex abuse ‘up 40 per cent’

Dr Liz Davies: 'We need more prosecutions'

Dr Liz Davies: 'We need more prosecutions' - Credit: Archant

Child sex exploitation reports have risen by more than 40 per cent in Islington over the last year.

During the last 12 months, 96 possible or actual cases have been identified, compared with 68 for the year before – the second highest in London.

The figures come from a statutory annual report delivered by the Islington Safeguarding Children Board (ISCB) to Islington Council’s Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee.

The board says the higher figures are a good thing, because it shows they are educating parents and children, particularly from gang-affiliated families, to the dangers of child sex exploitation.

But Dr Liz Davies, a child abuse expert who originally blew the whistle on the Islington paedophile ring, says this did not go far enough.

She said: “The extra reporting may well be true and it’s a good thing. I commend them for that.

“But what about prosecutions? The ultimate test of addressing this issue is whether the number of prosecutions is going up alongside the identification.

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“Rotherham and Rochdale [child abuse scandals] show that you need a dedicated team for child sex exploitation, because it’s a specialist subject.

“It can’t just come under children in need.

“They should also have some lay members on the panel, people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.”

Alan Caton, chairman of the ISCB, said they were in the process of appointing lay members for next year, while child sex exploitation in Islington was considered a joint responsibility, rather than just one team.

He said: “The ISCB has raised awareness of the issue of potential child sexual exploitation with all local agencies.

“It’s important to recognise that a referral does not mean the child is being exploited – it is, in fact, a crucial step in preventing such harm.

“Identifying children potentially at risk of exploitation allows the agencies – social services, the police and others – to take action.”

“Where actual victims of child sexual exploitation are identified we would support prosecution of the perpetrators.

“If anyone is concerned and wishes to report abuse they should contact either the police or children’s social services at the council.”

The report also highlights the 11,700 times the Child Services Contact Team were called, 23 per cent of which led to an assessment. During the same year, 82 children were reported missing from home in Islington, while 307 young people in the borough fall into the children looked after category.

There were also 13 deaths of Islington residents under 18. One of these, a young girl with autism who fell from a block of flats, resulted in management review.