A power to allow senior police or council officers to temporarily close premises where they suspect children are being sexually exploited is to become law.
The measure is a victory for Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner and the leader of Rochdale Council after they campaigned to have the measure introduced.
The Government initially rejected the plea for the simple proposal, but had a change of heart after Baroness Smith of Basildon introduced an amendment to the Bill in the House of Lords.
Now that the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act has received royal assent, the measure will become law.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said:
“This is a simple measure, but it’s a powerful additional tool that police and local authorities will be able to use to help keep children safe.
“I’m glad the Government finally listened to us and saw the real value in having this practical and proportionate tool. Ultimately it will disrupt the activities of people who want to abuse children. It’s not the silver bullet for us to solve the problem of child sexual exploitation, but it’s going to be invaluable for people on the ground who are working hard to keep our young people safe.
“I’d like to thank Angela Smith as without her intervention the Government would not have included this measure in the Act.” Tony Lloyd
Baroness Smith added: “The police and local councils needed more help to tackle those grooming and exploiting young girls. The information provided by Tony Lloyd and Colin Lambert made a strong case for changing the law and we were shocked that the Government had rejected this.
“We were pleased to be able to debate it in the House of Lords and get the Government to accept that this change was needed.”
Rochdale Council Leader Colin Lambert said: “We welcome this positive response from the government. The joint working between the council, police and central government clearly demonstrates how Rochdale is leading the way in how to tackle this serious problem.”
The closure notice will allow senior police or council officers to step in and temporarily shut down non-licensed premises where they believe children are being sexually exploited.
This could include takeaways, corner shops or other premises where grooming has been known to take place.
Shocking cases from across the country have shown where children and young people have been forced to carry out disgusting sexual acts by predatory paedophiles. In return they have been given “gifts” such as mobile phones or new shoes. In some cases “rewards” have included bags of chips or a hamburger.
Tony has also commissioned Ann Coffey MP to carry out a fully independent inquiry into the issue of child sexual exploitation. Details of the Coffey Inquiry are available at gmpcc.org.uk/coffeyinquiry.