Yvette Cooper MP, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, responding to the Children’s Commissioner Report on child exploitation by groups and gangs, said:
"The evidence from the Office of the Children's Commissioner of the extent of child exploitation and abuse is deeply disturbing and must act as a wake-up call to the Government and other agencies that urgent action is needed.
"This report shows thousands of children right across the country are already known to have been sexually exploited, raped or abused while many more are vulnerable and need better protection.
"We need a clear action plan from the Government to protect and support these children. It is clear that the police, local authorities, health services, schools and other organisations must do more as the Children’s Commissioner recommends, but the Government has to take responsibility for making sure it happens.
"Much more intensive investigation, intervention and protection is needed including early warning systems, training and awareness in child protection, and tougher action by police, social services, schools and other child protection bodies.
“More needs to be done to change attitudes in institutions which protect children, but more also needs to be done to change expectations among young people themselves.
“Too often victims of abuse are not believed or listened too. And this report shows that far too often victims - especially young women - are led to believe that the abuse is normal and that there is no alternative.
“This calls for urgent action, including in schools where compulsory sex and relationship education is needed, but also across society around the expectations of young people as they grow."
Lisa Nandy MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Minister, added:<img alt="Lisa Nandy" src="uploads/thumbs/M_8d631956-3618-6274-5d73-47904b59c4af.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 3px;"/>
"This report is a wake-up call that shows child exploitation is happening in communities across the country. The authors make clear that while it is not happening everywhere, it can happen anywhere.
"While agencies must listen to and respond to children who have been abused, the priority must be to prevent abuse from occurring. Today's report shows that everybody in society has a responsibility to keep children safe. Turning a blind eye to child abuse is simply not an option."