AN expert group is to be set up to examine how best to tackle the sexual exploitation of children, the Scottish Government has pledged.
Child exploitation is a “problem we must face up to”, said Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell as she made the commitment.
No figures are available on the prevalence of child sexual exploitation in Scotland. But a report published by the Scottish Government said that reported cases of exploitation across the UK have increased, from 5,411 in 2008-09 to 6,291 in 2009-10, although this may be a result of greater awareness of the issue.
Ms Campbell pledged to pilot improved ways of identifying victims, as many do not regard themselves as having been abused. She says she also hopes there will be improvements in the way police identify children who have been exploited in this way.
The minister also pledged to establish a national, confidential forum to encourage victims to share their experiences.
The expert group will look at sexual exploitation cases in the UK to see what lessons can be learned. It will also draw on expertise to help make recommendations to the Scottish Government.
“Sexual exploitation of children is a reality here in Scotland. Anyone who thinks our nation is immune from this appalling crime is simply wrong,” Ms Campbell said.