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Government publishes new strategy to protect children from sexual abuse

The Home Secretary has published a new national strategy to protect children from all forms of child sexual abuse.

The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy sets out how the Government will use new legislation and enhanced technology to stop offenders. This includes investing in the UK's Child Abuse Image Database to identify and catch more offenders more quickly – for example, by using new tools to speed up police investigations and protect officers' wellbeing by avoiding them being repeatedly exposed to indecent images.

The strategy is based on the following three objectives:

The strategy captures our long-term ambition to tackle this crime. It outlines the concrete steps we are taking now to step up our response and provides a robust framework for government to drive action across:

to carry on strengthening our response to all forms of child sexual abuse.

The Home Office will make it easier for parents and carers to ask the police whether someone has a criminal record for child sexual offences as the department commits to a review of Sarah's Law.

These measures are additional to civil orders to stop reoffending and introducing stronger sentencing.

The government will support local areas to improve their response to exploitation with funding for The Children's Society's Prevention Programme initiative, and will introduce the Online Safety Bill to ensure that technology companies are held to account for harmful content on their sites, and do not compromise on children's safety.

The publication comes as new Home Office research estimates that the social and economic cost of the crime over the victims' lifetimes is at least £10 billion for the victims who experienced child sexual abuse in the year ending March 2019, with the full emotional cost being immeasurable.

The strategy also aims to improve the data available on offenders following the publication of the paper on the characteristics of group-based offending which found that it was difficult to draw conclusions about the ethnicity of offenders as existing research is limited and data collection is poor.

This commitment includes working with local authorities to understand and respond to threats within their communities and collecting higher quality data on offenders so that the government can build a fuller picture on the characteristics of perpetrators and help tackle the abuse that has blighted many towns and cities in England.

To access the policy document, click here.