“I welcome this report, but I need further assurances that this and the Marshall Report will be properly implemented, and that there is a straightforward system for improvement in place, that will protect our young people from sexual exploitation.
“Although later than anticipated, the publication of the Thematic Review by the DHSSPS today provides a further step in gaining a deeper understanding of CSE in Northern Ireland.
“It builds on the work done by the Independent Inquiry, and highlights how we can better protect our children, and more effectively disrupt and prosecute perpetrators.
“I want to recognise the bravery of the young people, who by taking part in the Review, have allowed us to learn from their experiences. I call on everyone to respect their privacy, and show sensitivity when commenting on this important issue – it is the least they deserve.
“This report fills in more of the gaps, but it also reinforces the areas where coordinated action and a joined up approach is needed.
One area highlighted is the need to ensure that young people affected by CSE receive therapy and support services.
“I believe this is crucial for the recovery and future of these young people. It must be a priority now and integral to the longer term strategy for how child abuse and CSE in particular is addressed” said the Commissioner.
“We now have over 100 recommendations for improvements in this area. These need to be properly implemented and be must accompanied by effective and appropriate oversight mechanisms.
“The people of Northern Ireland must be confident that our government has learned from this work, and that these reports will not just gather dust on a shelf.
“I believe the intent and will is there, and many of the steps and actions are in place. However I remain to be fully convinced that all the pieces of the jigsaw are in place.
“We need to be assured we have a system that truly protects our children from the scourge of CSE, and I call on government to provide these assurances.
If you are reading this and are worried about yourself, or a young person please talk to someone. You can contact Social Services, NSPCC or Barnardos for help and support:
Notes to Editors