1. ITV Report

Government to deliver £40 million to tackle child abuse

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd said more needs to be done to protect children. Credit: PA

The Home Secretary will announce today that the government is to spend £40 million on protecting children from sexual exploitation.

Under the new drive the National Crime Agency will receive £20 million to tackle online child sexual exploitation.

The measures will also see a new centre of expertise launched and £2.2 million for charities working to protect children at risk of trafficking.

Professionals in contact with children such as teachers, social workers and police will also be given a revised definition of child sexual exploitation.

The revision makes clear that a victim "may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual".

It also states that "child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology".

The government is to spend £40 million on protecting children from sexual exploitation (posed by model). Credit: PA

Writing for parenting website Mumsnet, Ms Rudd said: "Children should be able to grow up free from the horrors of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

"The measures I am announcing today will further improve our ability to protect children and under my watch I am determined to bring those that would try to steal their childhood to justice."

The Centre of Expertise is to be headed by the children's charity Barnardo's.

It will be the "definitive source of information and guidance to those tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation on the front line", said the Home Office.

Barnardo's Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said: "Through the Centre of Expertise we will develop a deeper understanding of this abuse so that more children can be protected and helped to recover."

Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, Richard Watts, welcomed the new measures but said the government needs to recognise the wider funding gap.

"The measures announced today will make sure that we have the best evidence we can about preventing, tackling and helping victims to recover from child sexual abuse and exploitation, and much-needed investment in services will help partners work together to keep more children safe.

"However, it is important the government recognises the wider funding pressures facing social workers and others trying to deliver services for vulnerable children, with councils facing a £1.9 billion funding gap in children's services by 2020.