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Child Grooming

Volume 594: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2015

In the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, the Government amended section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to reduce the number of initial occasions on which the defendant must meet or communicate with the child in question from two to one. That will permit more effective intervention by the police in relation to individuals who could otherwise have been prosecuted only when a second contact had been established.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the report into child sexual abuse in Rotherham highlighted the role of some taxi drivers in the town in facilitating abuse. The point has been raised with me that someone could apply for a licence in one authority and be rejected, but apply successfully in another authority. What measures are the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Communities and Local Government taking to prevent that happening and to safeguard children?

A cross-Government working group is looking at what took place in Rotherham, what lessons can be learned, and what changes can be put in place. I agree with my hon. Friend that that area should be given serious consideration.