Report on the independent Inquiry

Publication: 19/11/14
Child Sexual Exploitation in Northern Ireland
Child Sexual Exploitation Inquiry Report Published

Following its submission to the ministers for health, justice and education on 13 November 2014, the report of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Northern Ireland is published today.

Kathleen Marshall, Inquiry lead said: “Child sexual exploitation is not new, but it has become a more significant threat to a greater number of children and young people with ready access to the internet. While it is difficult to assess the extent of child sexual exploitation, the indications are that it is widespread and growing. It is not restricted to children in care.”

Mrs Marshall: “At some levels, child sexual exploitation takes forms similar to those seen elsewhere, however, there are Northern Ireland-specific dimensions related, in particular, to the influence of powerful individuals in some communities.

A key element of this inquiry was strong engagement with young people, parents, professional and community groups and a range of statutory and voluntary agencies across the health, social care, justice and education sectors.

The inquiry makes 17 key recommendations, and a further 60 supporting recommendations to the ministers for health, justice and education. These include:
  • The DHSSPS to direct the Public Health Agency to undertake a public health campaign on child sexual exploitation related issues.
  • A continued and reinforced commitment to improving the response of the criminal justice system to reports of child abuse/ child sexual exploitation.
  • A strategic approach: a regional child sexual exploitation strategy that links in with and builds upon related strategies, for example, trafficking, domestic violence, early intervention, drugs and alcohol.
  • Health and education personnel to be recognised as significant partners in tackling child sexual exploitation, and the role of schools to be acknowledged and resourced.
  • An inter-agency forum to examine how changes in the criminal justice system can achieve more successful prosecutions of perpetrators.
  • Improved joint working arrangements between the agencies responsible for preventing, identifying and disrupting CSE.
  • Better support services for victims of CSE.
Mrs Marshall concluded: “Over the past year, awareness of child sexual exploitation has increased in Northern Ireland, and the response to it has improved. There are examples of excellent and dedicated work by a range of professionals and voluntary agencies, and the beginnings of an improvement in data collection, but much more remains to be done. In taking the Inquiry’s recommendations forward, it will be essential that children, young people and parents are fully engaged.”