"We must make sure our children have the law’s fullest protection."
Bradford MPs have welcomed a new law that gives police powers to prevent the sexual grooming of children at a much earlier stage.
Starting from 3rd April 2017, police have the ability to arrest anyone who sends a sexual message to a child. They will also be able to take other steps to intervene before any sexual grooming takes place.
The new law received praise from MPs in the Bradford area, as well as West Yorkshire Police.
The NSPCC also reported that the number of groomed children meeting abusers risen to 138% over the last 5 years. They revealed this Yorkshire and the Humber figure on 3rd April 2017.
Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said of the new law: “Giving the police powers to intervene earlier in these cases, at the grooming stage and before actual abuse starts, is appropriate and very welcome.
“Child abuse is an abhorrent crime and we must make sure our children have the law’s fullest protection.”
Fellow MP, Bradford East’s Imran Hussain echoed her statement:
“Any measure that helps to protect our children and prevent their exploitation, either online or offline, has my full support, so I welcome the decision.”
Bradford West MP Naz Shah also voiced her support: “We very much welcome that police will be able to protect victims by intervening a lot earlier. That is across the board, from politicians and police, and I am behind it as well.”
Russ Fosters, West Yorkshire’s Assistant Chief Constable, also said: “We welcome this change in [the] law which will allow police forces to intervene at an earlier stage and stop abuse before it starts.
“Safeguarding children is our top priority and we are committed to doing all we can to minimise the risks to children and ensure they are protected from harm.”
The journey to tackle sexual grooming has witnessed many obstacles.
In 2015, a law was introduced that would make it illegal to send sexual messages to children. However, the government failed to bring it into force. This consequently prevented police from taking action before any sexual grooming of children had taken place.
From that year to March 2016, Yorkshire police reported 93 cases of abusers meeting a child after sexually grooming them. This was an increase from 39 in the year 2011/12.
These figures highlight the need for the law. With support from MPs, the police should be able to act sooner to prevent sexual grooming of children.