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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Parents' fight against pimping
Helpline
Crop offers emotional support to parents affected by pimping
From her tiny office in a Leeds city centre tower block, Lisa (not her real name) runs a national helpline offering support to desperate parents.

The 60 or so families currently on her books come from across the social spectrum.

But the same thing is tearing them apart - their daughters have all been sucked into the sordid world of child prostitution.

They are also united in their frustration with the authorities, who have often been unable to take action against those who lured their children into the sex industry.

Tireless campaign

The Coalition for the Removal of Pimping (Crop), for whom Lisa is a case worker, was founded in 1996 by a woman whose 17-year-old daughter had been murdered by a "punter".

Irene Ivison's well educated daughter, Fiona, was forced into prostitution by her older "boyfriend".

Her mother had not known she was working the streets in the three weeks before her death, but had been battling for help to end the abusive relationship Fiona had endured since the age of 14.

By the time of her own sudden death in November 2000, Irene's tireless campaigning had put the issue of pimping higher up the government agenda.

"Irene showed the police and social services that when it comes to child prostitution, families are part of the solution, not the problem," says Lisa, whose post was created with Home Office funding.

"As parents we have natural instincts and can make the professionals aware of the dangers."

Crop's recent cases include a mother from West Yorkshire who says her 13-year-old daughter was groomed by a man who plied her with alcohol and introduced her to other paedophiles.

Meanwhile, a father from Brighton sought support after going to court 14 times to stop a 31-year-old man having a relationship with his 14-year-old daughter.

Using the law

Many parents feel helpless because the authorities say they cannot act unless girls are able and willing to give evidence.

Work begun by Irene in her native Sheffield is beginning to give these families some hope.

The city council now invokes the Child Abduction Act at the request of a parent who reports their daughter is staying at another address.

We are dealing with very clever, very manipulative men
Lisa, Crop case worker
A letter is served to the man by police, warning of penalties if he continues to allow the girl into his home.

Nationally, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 secured some of the legal changes that groups like Crop had been pushing for when it came into force this month.

Anyone convicted of contacting a child with the intention of committing a sex offence now faces up to 10 years in jail under a new grooming offence.

But Crop maintain parents should be allowed to prosecute men on behalf of their daughters.

"We are dealing with very clever, very manipulative men," said Lisa, who did not wish her real name to be used in the interview for safety reasons.

"Nine times out of ten the girl cannot go to the police because of harrassment - so how do tougher sentences make any difference?"

Real Story: BBC One, Monday 10 May 2004, 1930 BST and live on the Real Story website.

Crop can be contacted by phone on 0113 2436896 or via email on crop1@freeuk.com

SEE ALSO:
Huntley moved to Wakefield jail
24 Apr 04  |  Cambridgeshire
School to erase signs of Huntley
04 Apr 04  |  Cambridgeshire
Soham: The Real Story
17 Dec 03  |  Real Story
Soham: The search for answers
17 Dec 03  |  Real Story


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