Earlier this week the former home secretary, Sajid Javid, commented upon the surge in child sexual abuse which has occurred during the Coronavirus lockdown. He said that he will lead a “no holds barred” inquiry with the Centre for Social Justice think tank to examine organised child sexual exploitation and the abuse of children online.
In 2018 Mr Javid ordered research into the characteristics and contexts of gangs abusing children. That report is due to be published later this year.
Meanwhile there seems to be no doubt that during lockdown there has been an increase in the abuse of children both in their homes and online. New research from the NSPCC has found that lonely children are twice as likely to be abused online, and during lockdown children are at home, many feeling anxious and lonely and spending more time online. Add to that tech firms are struggling to maintain content moderation. All of this has created a perfect storm for an increase in online abuse.
Both child sexual exploitation and online abuse are clearly issues which cannot be ignored but they are also both subjects which are IICSA investigations. As noted in an earlier blog this week the investigation in to child sexual exploitation by organised networks will consider eight themes in connection with six geographic areas at a hearing in autumn, and the report in to the investigation linked to the Internet was published in March 2020. With limited information available about the new planned inquiry the obvious question is will there not be significant overlap and duplication of costs?
Paula Jefferson, Partner, BLM