Protecting Scotland’s children - what more needs to be done?


Measures aimed at protecting the most vulnerable members of society are to be explored in an inquiry launched today by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.

The effectiveness of the practices and guidelines currently in place to tackle and prevent the sexual exploitation of children will be the focus of the inquiry. It will also look at what more still needs to be done.

The inquiry has been launched following the Committee’s consideration of petition (PE1393) submitted by Barnardo’s Scotland which calls on the Scottish Government to tackle child sexual exploitation in Scotland.

Launching the inquiry during a visit to Barnardo’s Scotland to meet those working with victims of sexual exploitation, Committee Convener David Stewart MSP said:

“A childhood free from exploitation of any sort should be a right for every child. Our Committee wants to examine the current measures in place to tackle this shocking and devastating practice. We will also look at what needs to be done to address the sexual exploitation of children as well as supporting victims to rebuild their lives.

“There will be no easy answers, but we want to ensure that everything possible is being done to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.”

The Committee would like to hear from those working to tackle child sexual exploitation, as well as those supporting its victims. It would also like to hear from those who have first-hand experience of what more can be done.

Key questions that will be asked during the inquiry include:

  • What are the most common types of child sexual exploitation;
  • What are the main routes young people become involved in sexual exploitation;
  • What examples exist of good and bad practice through multi-agency working; and
  • What changes would be most helpful in preventing the exploitation of children.


Petition PE1393 was submitted by Barnardo’s Scotland and calls on the Scottish Parliament to:

urge the Scottish Government to (1) commission new research on the nature and scope of child sexual exploitation in Scotland; (2) report back on all action points set out in the 2003 Scottish Government guidance on Vulnerable Children and Young People Sexual Exploitation Through Prostitution; (3) review and develop dedicated Scottish Government guidelines on child sexual exploitation, updating the 2003 Scottish guidance and incorporating the relevant parts of the 2010 National Child Protection Guidelines.

The remit of the new inquiry is to examine the nature and extent of child sexual exploitation in Scotland; in conjunction with relevant agencies and stakeholders to determine the most pertinent issues which need to be addressed; to examine the effectiveness of current measures aimed at tackling, preventing and disrupting child sexual exploitation; and to make recommendations on what needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of those measures.

The closing date for submissions is 30 April 2013.

Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to

Hard copy responses may be sent to:

Public Petitions Committee
Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP

  • More information on the Committee's inquiry

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