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UK 'way behind rest of the world' on protecting children

A charity helping vulnerable and neglected children has welcomed proposals for a new 'Cinderella Law', which would make emotional cruelty to children a criminal offence.

Helen Donohoe of Action for Children told ITV News the move was welcome as the UK's law in this area is currently "way behind the rest of the world".

MP: 'Not just the criminal law that needs to change'

Greater awareness, integration of care services and improved training will help combat emotional abuse suffered by children, a Conservative MP has told Daybreak.

Robert Buckland said "it was not just the criminal law that needs to change" if children who are starved of love and affection are to be helped by social services.

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Cinderella Law a 'monumental step forward'

Changes to the child neglect laws that will make “emotional cruelty” a crime for the first time, alongside physical or sexual abuse have been praised by charity leaders.

Action for Children's chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead said: "This is a monumental step forward for thousands of children who we know suffer from emotional abuse and countless others whose desperate situations have yet to come to light.

"I've met children who have been scapegoated in their families, constantly humiliated and made to feel unloved. The impact is devastating and can lead to life-long mental health problems and, in some cases, suicide.

'Cinderella Law' to stop emotional child abuse

'Cinderella Law' to stop emotional child abuse

A girl crying in with stuffed animal Credit: PA Wire

Adults who commit acts of emotional cruelty against children in their care will face the same threat of jail as those guilty of physical neglect, under new laws being considered by ministers.

The Government will introduce the change to child neglect laws in the Queen's Speech in June, the Daily Telegraph said.

The move follows a campaign to change the law in England and Wales, led by charity Action for Children and MPs from all three main parties in Westminster.

Calls for more funding to tackle online abuse images

A cross-party body has called for more funding to tackle the rapid spread of images of child abuse online, and warned that current efforts may prove "woefully insufficient."

Read: Calls for more action to improve online safety

The Commons committee welcomed the commitment by the Internet Watch Foundation to embark on proactive searching for abuse, but warned there were "concerns" about current levels of funding and capacity.

Concerned that seven additional staff might prove woefully insufficient to achieve substantial progress towards what must be an important intermediate goal: the eradication of child abuse images from the open internet.

It said there was:

A clear need to ensure that the police have adequate resources to track down and arrest online paedophiles in sufficient numbers to act as a meaningful deterrent to others.

If necessary, additional funding should be provided to recruit and train a sufficiently large number of police officers adequate to the task.

MP: 'Those that profit from internet must protect children'

Tory MP John Whittingdale has called on internet companies to do more to protect children from viewing images of child abuse and porn online.

In a warning that current efforts to eradicate images of child abuse may prove "woefully inadequate" he said:

We do not think there needs to be more regulation, and certainly not to stifle all the positive purposes and uses of the internet, but those who profit from the internet must demonstrate the utmost commitment to protecting children and should be prosecuted and penalised if they don't.

Facebook and Twitter, for example, are aware of the extent to which their services are accessed by younger children, thanks to age verification processes that are at best flimsy.

We expect them to pay greater attention to factoring this into the services provided, the content allowed and the access to both.

The same applies to other social media companies in a similar position. Bullying that takes place in the playground can merge seamlessly with bullying on smart phones and tablets.

More: Calls for more action to improve online safety

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Calls for more action to improve online safety

Efforts by the internet industry to eradicate images of child abuse online may prove "woefully insufficient", MPs said as they called for more action to improve online safety.

More: Search engines step up to the plate with reforms

Seven new staff members at the Internet Watch Foundation may not be enough, MPs said. Credit: PA

The call comes as it emerged that additional funding to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has resulted in the recruitment of seven extra full-time staff to track down illegal images.

Last year Google pledged £1 million to tackle the issue of child abuse images online.

The move came amid severe criticism of internet firms for inaction following a number of child murder cases with porn connections.

Trafficking cases involving UK children up by 173%

In total the number of cases involving Britons or the UK as country of origin rose 173% to 90; of those, 63 were children.

Increased awareness, both of human trafficking in its various forms and the obligation of first responders to use the National Referral Mechanism, is a likely contributor to the increased number of referrals in 2013.

We know that this is a crime which affects some of society's most vulnerable people, and some victims will remain undetected.

Equally, some of those referred to the NRM may not ultimately be classified as victims of human trafficking.

The NCA is committed to relentlessly disrupting what is a criminal trade in human misery.

– Liam Vernon, Head of the NCA's UK Human Trafficking Centre.

Of the number of minors identified as potential victims, 45 were classed as possible domestic servitude (up 2% on 2012), 123 as labour exploitation (up 24%) and 138 were unknown (up 9%).

Of the adults, 141 were classed as domestic servitude (up 18%), 511 labour exploitation (89% rise), 581 sexual exploitation (53% rise), and 62 unknown (up 44%).

NCA: 1,700 potential child abuse trafficking victims

New NCA figures on trafficking show that for children the most common nationality or country of origin was Vietnam, followed by the UK and then Albania.

The figures are the number of cases highlighted under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), used to bring possible victims to the authorities' attention.

The NCA said that 1,746 people from 112 different countries were highlighted as as potential victims of traffickers last year, up 47% on the previous year. Nearly two thirds of those referred were female (1,122) and around a quarter (450) were children.

Child abuse trafficking doubles in a year, figures show

The number of UK-born children identified as being trafficked for sexual abuse more than doubled last year.

The Nationa Crime Agency has released new data. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Data released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) showed that 56 minors who are from the UK were flagged up as potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in 2013, a rise of 155% on the previous year.

It is not clear whether they were being taken out of the country or moved within the UK, the NCA said. The number of foreign children identified as being at risk also rose by 11%, to 88.

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