15 Redbridge children feared to be at risk of sexual exploitation

15 teenagers have been referred to a Redbridge Multi-Agency Panel (MAP) so far this year.

15 teenagers have been referred to a Redbridge Multi-Agency Panel (MAP) so far this year. - Credit: Archant

Fifteen teenagers – including a 13-year-old boy – have been referred to a specialist panel amid concerns they are at risk of sexual exploitation.

Shocking details have emerged in each case, with concerns raised in relation to drugs, alcohol, gangs and social media.

In light of the Rotherham revelations, in which a report stated at least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013, news agency Openworld and Channel 4 News published the results of 122 Freedom of Information (FOI) requests earlier this month.

The joint study aimed to uncover the scale of child exploitation across the country in the past 18 months.

Redbridge Council said eight children under the age of 16 had been referred to its monthly Multi Agency Panel (MAP), set up in July last year, which focuses on young people at risk of being sexually exploited.

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The most alarming cases involved a 13-year-old boy, referred to as Child C, who was found to be in possession of large sums of money and had received explicit photos via electronic media.

In another case, a 14-year-old girl, known as Child I, was found to have had sex whilst intoxicated, which resulted in photographs being taken and shared via electronic media.

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Eighteen children – including two 13-year-old girls – were referred to MAP in 2013, but the council only holds figures from July when the panel was set up.

Responding to the study, the NSPCC’s Jon Brown, the lead for tackling sexual abuse, highlighted the need to educate young people on the tell-tale signs they are being groomed.

He said: “Parents should be on alert for danger signs – for example, their children suddenly having a new phone or gifts and being driven around by older men or undergoing dramatic changes in behaviour.

“Unfortunately, many who fall prey to sexual exploitation do not realise they are being cruelly used and others are just too terrified to seek help.”

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