Stoke & Staffordshire

Child sex exploitation 'happens across Stoke-on-Trent'

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Media caption"Louise" said she was abused for years

It is "undoubtedly the case" child sexual exploitation is taking place across Stoke-on-Trent, a report said.

The council report said 27 youngsters were targeted in the city in 2013 and 78 were at risk.

It comes as an independent review of child protection services praised the authority for developing "an effective multi-agency response" to the issue.

Gwen Hassall, the authority's deputy leader, said the problem was "nothing like the one in Rotherham".

A report earlier this year revealed that in that town at least 1,400 children were abused.

The report on Stoke, carried out by a team from the University of Bedfordshire, said there was a long waiting list to access support.

It made 25 recommendations about how the service can improve. These include nominating a multi-agency co-ordinator and improving recording.

The report to the council's Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee said Stoke's deprivation, motorway infrastructure and cheap rental properties made it more vulnerable to sex exploitation.

Mrs Hassall said it was "very sad" to admit the exploitation goes on.

"We are doing everything we physically can to get rid of it," she said.

"I would be foolish to say this is not happening."

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