The verdict in the Oxford exploitation trail marks an important step forward in tackling sex crime

It is essential that sexually exploited children have the confidence to put their faith in the criminal justice system. This verdict marks an important step forward

Share
Fact File
  • 37% Rise in sexually exploited children known to Barnardo's over the last three years
Related Topics

Justice for the victims of child sexual exploitation marks an important step forward at the conclusion of what has been a harrowing five-month trial at the Old Bailey. Convictions like these play a vital part in tackling the core of this pernicious and destructive crime.

It is essential that sexually exploited children have the confidence to put their faith in the criminal justice system. Seeing the crimes of these seven men laid bare in such a high profile and well-publicised trial will help to engender confidence in others.

However, it is crucial that improvements continue to be made to police, prosecution and court practice to ensure we see more of these criminals successfully convicted. Through our 23 specialist services we know just how difficult it is for sexually exploited young people to seek a prosecution for their abuse. The sad truth is that the ordeal of going through the courts is potentially more damaging than the abuse itself. This trial starkly demonstrates just how difficult this process can be.

The accounts of abuse and exploitation re-told by the victims were unspeakably shocking. Girls were regularly raped, beaten and trafficked for sex. One girl told of how her abuser branded her with a hairpin while another woke up naked between two men after passing out having been plied with drink and drugs.

For these girls giving evidence in court must have taken incredible courage. Standing behind a curtain or giving evidence via a video link offers no real protection to the accusations of lying or suggestions that the abuse was “the product of a fertile imagination” by the men who exploited them.

It is easy to see why the invasive nature of going to court can stop young people from reporting the abuse they suffered or from providing evidence in court. It’s essential that more is done to overcome the inherent barriers to achieving prosecutions. This should include ensuring that special measures are always made available for young people and that victims have access to appropriate support to guide them throughout the court process. It is also crucial that agencies continue to engage with victims and prioritise their welfare after the trial has ended, regardless of the verdict.

Nobody currently knows the full extent of these crimes because of their hidden nature. There is an urgent need to improve data on the prevalence of child sexual exploitation, to strengthen the evidence base and to support professionals to appropriately share information.

Victims of sexual exploitation must not be left to suffer in silence because their calls for help are ignored or dismissed. Everyone has a duty to know how to spot the signs in order to protect children from this sickening crime and ensure that abusers are brought to justice.

The need has never been greater; the number of sexually exploited children known to Barnardo’s rose by 22 per cent to 1,452 in the UK last year and 37 per cent during the past three years. Many of our services are oversubscribed and running waiting lists with more than 200 sexually exploited children waiting to receive the support they need.

The men have been found guilty of appalling crimes against some of the most vulnerable people in our society. They will no doubt face lengthy custodial sentences but it would be wrong for us to view this with any sense of finality. The trial may have ended but across the country countless young people continue to be exploited for sex by criminal gangs.

For the victims of these seven men, with the right help and support the long journey to rebuild their lives can really begin. For other sexually exploited children across the UK, Barnardo's will strive to give them someone to turn to in their darkest hour. We will never stop fighting to ensure that wherever possible the perpetrators of these heinous crimes face the full consequences of their actions.

Comments have been closed on this article for legal reasons

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Senior Change Engineer (Windows, Linux, VMWare) - London £35k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has painted a scary picture of what life would be like under a Labour government  

You want constitutional change? Fixed-term parliaments have already done the job

Steve Richards
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song  

Ukip Calypso by Mike Read? The horror! The horror!

Patrick Strudwick
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past