A Derby charity is backing a national report released today (Tuesday, July 10th) which has found that victims of child sexual exploitation commit crime as a cry for help.
The report, ‘Out of place: The policing and criminalisation of sexually exploited girls and young women’, by the Howard League for Penal Reform, reveals that many sexually exploited children offend to try to escape the perpetrators who exploit them.
Safe and Sound Derby took part in research carried out by the University College London Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science which found a similar pattern in Derby.
That research found that almost 40 per cent of more than 500 child sexual exploitation victims in Derby between 2001 and 2010 were involved in offending.
UCL analysed a sample of 552 sexually exploited children in the city between 2001 and 2010, 211 of whom had offending histories, which covered a total of 1,586 recorded crimes.
The research also found that 50 per cent of the 211 children had committed their first offence by age 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 15.
Offences ranged from shoplifting and burglary to criminal damage and resisting arrest.
Nathalie Walters is chief executive for Safe and Sound Derby, which helps children and young people who are being, or who are at risk of being sexually exploited.
She said: “We are not saying that child sexual exploitation victims have a licence to commit crime.
“However, there is a clear link between exploitation and offending and we believe that more needs to be done to break this cycle.
“Victims of child sexual exploitation may well turn to crime in order to be removed from their abuser and this needs to be recognised.
“We welcome this national report and back the Howard League for Penal Reform in calling for local agencies to link together and develop new strategies to protect victims of child sexual exploitation.”