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Child sex abuse rings ‘may exploit girls across county’
CHILD sex exploitation is not just an Oxford problem and young girls in the rest of the county are likely being abused, officials have warned.
Senior members of the Oxfordshire Safer Communities Partnership say the county should not see child sex rings as just an Oxford problem.
They say awareness needs to be raised across the county.
Kieron Mallon, cabinet member for police and policy co-ordination on the partnership board, said the authorities should be looking for victims across Oxfordshire.
The comments come after seven men were jailed for a total of 95 years earlier this year for grooming, drugging, and abusing young vulnerable girls in Oxford.
An 18-week long court trial came after Operation Bullfinch – an police inquiry into child grooming and sex abuse in the city.
The board has been looking at the latest progress on tackling child sex exploitation but says people should remain vigilant.
Mr Mallon said: “We need to remember we need to work across the county. There will be pockets of this in every market town in Oxfordshire.
“We need to move away from seeing this as an Oxford city problem. We need to include the districts in all of this.”
He also said the partnership should not be afraid of finding more cases.
He said: “By raising awareness and tackling this, we will uncover more.”
Peter Clark, vice-chairman on Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board, said the police and council were now well-equipped to tackle the issue.
He said police, social services and teaching staff had been trained to spot signs of abuse.
He also said the play Chelsea’s Choice, which aims to highlight issues of abuse, had now been seen by every school in the county.
But he warned the authorities needed to stay on top of the problem: “You can have the best policies in the world, but if you don’t know if they are being followed or if the outcome is better, then you are only doing half the job.”
STUDENTS LOOK AT SEX TRAFFICKING
SPURRED on by the Operation Bullfinch case, Oxford University
students have written a report on sex trafficking.
The student think-tank group OxPolicy has published its “Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking in Oxfordshire and the UK” report.
Second year law student Charlie Bishop, 19, the group’s research co-ordinator for human trafficking, said: “It was a significant factor in us
deciding to do this.
“We wanted to pick something that was quite a recent issue that had some kind of influence in the area.
“We were all quite shocked by it.”
The group hosted a discussion group at Balliol College to launch the report.
Speakers included James Behan, head of operations at the National Crime Agency’s UK Human Trafficking Centre, and David Nix, the head of licensing at the Gangmasters’
The report recommends compulsory police training on issues surrounding sexual abuse and a review of laws to stop immigration trafficking for labour slavery.
The study also found 45 per cent of students surveyed had heard about the Operation Bullfinch grooming case in Oxford.