We’ve joined a coalition of leading children’s charities1 in a campaign to amend the Victims and Prisoners Bill so it offers more support and protection to children and young people who’ve been victims of abuse and exploitation.
The Bill offers a landmark opportunity to transform the criminal justice system into taking a child-centred approach and tailor itself to the needs of child victims. This includes the support and resources to access specialist counselling when needed.
We’re supporting amendments calling for children to be recognised as a distinct victim group from adults and to develop a statutory definition of child criminal exploitation. Agencies responsible for delivering victims’ rights also need to be held accountable.
Open letter sent to Lord Chancellor
As part of this work, we’ve signed an open letter to the Lord Chancellor, written by campaigner Charlie Webster, outlining the need for adequate support for children.
This includes stressing the importance of sufficient multi-year funding allocated so that victims and survivors can access specialist counselling and emotional support that helps survivors to work through trauma and rebuild their lives after sexual abuse.
Cross-party support event held at House of Commons
Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Policy Lead, joined a cross party event in the House of Commons this week (attended by Jess Phillips MP, Lord Polak and Victims’ Commissioner Baroness Newlove) pressing for these amendments.
Jo said: “I was proud to represent BACP at this important event and listen to survivor’s stories delivered so courageously. When reporting their abuse and exploitation these young people talked of being re-traumatised by the very judicial system that was supposed to protect them.
“That’s why it’s vital that the Victims and Prisoners Bill needs a separate focus on children and young people’s needs.
“It’s encouraging to see cross-party support growing in both the House of Commons and Lords, demonstrated by those attending this event.
“I spoke to Jess Phillips MP alongside survivor Poppy and her mum, who recently appeared in a BBC documentary about her experience of abuse. Poppy’s mum discussed the life changing impact of counselling and how accessing counselling should never be a post code lottery, with families at the mercy of long waiting times or paying for private treatment.
“The task in hand, if the proposed amendments are included in the Bill, is to secure funding so any child or young adult navigating their way through the judicial system has access to specialist sexual abuse and exploitation counselling. And to ensure there is adequate funding in place when the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.”
*The Children’s Charities Coalition: Action for Children, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, National Children’s Bureau and NSPCC.
1 The Children’s Charities Coalition: Action for Children, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, National Children’s Bureau and NSPCC.
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