Staffordshire’s UKIP MEP Jill Seymour today condemned the ‘alarming and unacceptable’ rise in child exploitation across the county, and called on the Government to make more money available to bring the criminals to justice.
Jill Seymour’s comments follow news that 27 children were sexually exploited in Stoke-on-Trent last year, with hundreds more across the West Midlands believed to be at risk.
Youngsters in the Potteries are considered particularly vulnerable to organised sexual exploitation, due to the city’s deprivation and the availability of cheap rental properties, according to the council.
Police and council leaders insist they are doing everything they can tackle the problem, and have insisted that a Rotherham-style scandal will not be allowed happen in Staffordshire.
Mrs Seymour, Staffordshire’s UKIP representative in the European Parliament, said: “I'm alarmed and frankly speechless that, yet again, we are hearing stories about the suffering of innocent children.
“It is totally unacceptable in today’s society to find reports of these types of crime increasing, not decreasing.”
Staffordshire Police has doubled the size of its child exploitation team, despite facing budget cuts. It now comprises a detective inspector, two detective sergeants and 12 police officers.
Mrs Seymour said: “The Government must recognise this alarming growth in child abuse, and ensure every council and police force is given adequate funds to investigate, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“It is good to hear Staffordshire organisations are working together to prioritise the issue, but worrying to hear them already warning of funding restrictions which could hamper their progress.
“These dregs of society must be caught, and when they are, the courts must hand down severe sentences which are appropriate for such a vile, disgusting crime.”
Mrs Seymour also urged the public to be vigilant, and brave enough to report any suspicions that a child may be at risk of harm.
“The authorities have a responsibility to swiftly and transparently protect children across the West Midlands without fear or favour to any segment of society, unfettered by the political correctness that has caused untold suffering for many victims.”