The Government has set out a new, three-point strategy to tackle sexual abuse whether it is committed in person or online, in families or communities, here in this country or overseas. The strategy aims to fulfil the Government’s goal to prevent, tackle and respond to child sexual abuse using a robust framework which seeks to encourage action amongst different sectors and agencies.
The strategy sets out the following three objectives:
- To tackle all forms of child sexual abuse and bring offenders to justice;
- To prevent offending and re-offending;
- To protect and safeguard children and young people, and provide support to all victims and survivors.
The publication by Home Secretary Priti Patel is a first-of-its-kind and whilst some might criticise the strategy as being long-overdue, the plan sets out how the Government will use new legislation and technology to ‘stop offenders in their tracks’. The new technology includes the UK’s world-leading Child Abuse Image Database which the Government seeks to invest in with the aim to catching abusers more quickly by speeding up police investigations whilst also protecting police officers wellbeing by avoiding them being exposed to indecent images.
Shortly following the publication, the Government also confirmed they will provide an extra £40million to help victims of rape and domestic abuse during the Coronavirus pandemic. This is supposedly in response to reports of charities experiencing a 200% increase in calls and webchat services following the first lockdown.
The strategy will also be supported by the NSPCC which will provide free support and training to safeguarding agencies in local areas to ensure they are able to expand the support to children who have suffered sexual abuse. These packages of support place emphasis on the Government’s objective to encourage early intervention and action to tackle the issue. Catch-22 has acknowledged and welcomed the publication, especially with regards to those children in hard-to-reach communities who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Director of Catch-22 Kate Wareham, identified that key to the strategy is the prioritisation of investment in technology and the Government’s responsibility to target funds towards safe online platforms for children.
Priti Patel has promised as part of the strategy’s campaign to “leave no stone unturned in our fight to root out the perpetrators and protect children.” It has been assured that the Government will invest in the best technology, best intelligence and best law enforcement capabilities. Further information on the strategy and how this will be implemented will follow as the Government continues to consider the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and implement the recommendations made into the strategy where appropriate.