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Thousands back bid to halt sexual abuse
AN OXFORD MP’s petition to do more to protect children from sex abusers has gathered nearly 100,000 signatures.
Nicola Blackwood, Oxford West and Abingdon MP, inset right, launched the Childhood Lost campaign at the end of last month following the conviction of seven men who groomed and exploited young girls in Oxford.
Last night there were 98,611 names on the petition addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron, which calls for new legislation and more investment to tackle the threat of child abuse rings.
The bid, which was launched on Tuesday, August 27, has been backed by children’s charities including Barnardo’s, the NSPCC and Save the Children.
Miss Blackwood said yesterday: “Only two weeks since the campaign launch nearly 100,000 people have signed the Childhood Lost petition and we’ve been overwhelmed by messages of support.
“It is clear that with 18,915 recorded sexual crimes against children nationally last year and so many high profile grooming cases shocking local communities, there is strong public support for reforms which will help protect the victims and prosecute perpetrators.”
It comes as the Government yesterday published its response to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on localised grooming.
And on the same day Miss Blackwood, who sits on the committee, chaired a meeting in Parliament to discuss how hotels, shops and restaurants can help stop child sex exploitation. Speakers included police and criminal justice minister Damian Green.
The 18-week Old Bailey trial of the Oxford grooming gang heard Nanford Guest House in East Oxford was used by men to rape and prostitute their victims.
The meeting yesterday also marked the launch of the Children’s Society’s Say Something if you See Something campaign.
Chief executive Matthew Reed said: “Across the country children are being groomed, trafficked and exploited in locations such as hotels, pubs, takeaways and other premises.
“Preventing child sexual exploitation is everybody’s business, not just the police or social workers. It is important to work with the hospitality industry so that their employees are confident in recognising the signs of exploitation and can help keep vulnerable children safe.”
Nanford Guest House manager John Cronin has denied knowing anything about abuse taking place at the site.
The Government responded to each of the committee’s 36 recommendations including getting authorities and police to work more closely.
A spokesman said: “The Government is committed to maintaining the momentum it has already brought to tackling this issue.”
- For details on the campaign and to sign the petition, visit childhood lost.co.uk
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