Responding to the first sentences handed down to the gang found guilty of sexual exploitation in Newcastle, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

“The severity of these sentences and the judge’s comments on the serious and sustained nature of the abuse in these cases illustrate just how appalling these crimes are. As the judge pointed out, these vulnerable young people were shockingly seen as ‘commodities’, to be passed around at parties. These prosecutions could not have happened without the incredible bravery shown by the victims who came forward and spoke out about the brutal abuse they suffered.

“While the perpetrators and their sentences will no doubt attract headlines over the coming days, as a charity working directly with victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation we know that the trauma can live on for years – and this was clear in the heartbreaking victim statements which the court heard today. The welfare of all young people who have suffered such terrible abuse must be an absolute priority, and they must be given the long term support they need to recover from their ordeal.

“These offenders are now rightly behind bars, but this is a crime that can affect any child, in any community, and thousands of children across the UK are still at risk. It’s vital that everyone working with children is aware of the warning signs, and that any child or young person who comes forward is listened to and taken seriously, so that action can be taken to protect them at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Media enquiries:

For more information, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editor
• The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.