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Thursday, January 29, 1998 Published at 23:55 GMT



Sport: Rugby Union

Child prostitution figures double
image: [ The Society is calling for a change in the law ]
The Society is calling for a change in the law

The number of children convicted of child prostitution more than doubled in a year, according to Home Office figures.

The statistics have prompted the Children's Society charity to call for a change in the law so that the children are treated as victims.

Home Office figures show that 210 children aged 17 and under were convicted of offences relating to prostitution in 1996 compared to 101 children in 1995.

The number of cautions also rose slightly from 263 to 287.

Included in the figures is an 11-year-old girl who was cautioned for an offence relating to prostitution - the youngest person to be cautioned since 1992.

The Children's Society chief executive Ian Sparks said: "The fact that an 11-year-old child has been cautioned is beyond belief.

"We know that many police forces around the country have taken a more enlightened approach towards children on the streets, so the figures are a real shock to us."

The Children's Society wants the law to target those who use child prostitutes rather than the children.

The figures were released as Health Minister Paul Boateng promised to respond to the increasing problem of child prostitution under questioning from members of the Health Select Committee.

At the Select Committee, Mr Boateng and Herbert Laming, Chief Inspector of Social Services, promised to take up the issue with the Home Office.

Barry Sheerman MP, a leading parliamentary campaigner on child prostitution issues, said: "These latest figures confirm what everyone who works in this area already knows.

"Until we give children and young people the protection of the law, they will continue to be at the mercy of adults who abuse them."






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