LONDON: Former home secretary Sajid Javid has said that the coronavirus lockdown has created a “perfect storm” for many children isolated with their abusers.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said this will contribute to a “surge” in cases.
He said he will lead a new “no holds barred” inquiry into child sex abuse in the UK with the Centre for Social Justice think tank. The inquiry will examine organised child sexual exploitation and the abuse of children online.
According to a BBC report, it comes as the NSPCC says its helpline for adults has responded to more than 10,000 “child welfare contacts”, including calls and emails, since the start of the UK’s lockdown in March. Concerns included emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect and parental mental health.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced last month that the government will publish a paper “later this year” on research into group-based child sexual exploitation, which was commissioned by Mr Javid when he was home secretary in 2018.
Mr Javid told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that something that “weighed the most heavily on him” during his time as home secretary in 2018 and 2019 was child sexual abuse and its “true scale”.
He said he was “particularly concerned” about lockdown because “children are left to isolate alongside their abuser and they will therefore suffer severe long-term damage and this kind of thing isn’t reflected in statistics just yet, but it will be, and I’m very concerned about that”.
The former chancellor said the investigation into will look at organised child sexual exploitation, including gangs and on-street grooming. The second part of the inquiry will examine how child sexual abuse “happens today”, with a focus on online abuse and live streaming.
Of the gang-based exploitation, Mr Javid said: “We know that of all these high profile cases when there have been convictions, a disproportionate number of people are from Asian heritage, particularly Pakistani heritage, my own heritage and that both saddens and angers me.”People from my heritage, many of them disproportionately responsible for what we’ve seen and I want to know why.” He said in the past there had been an “ignorance” of this in some authorities.