Recorder letters: Child grooming, railways, trading and heart disease

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 May 2017

PA Archive/PA Images

NSPCC give timely advice on recognising child grooming. Picture: DOMINIC LIPINSKI/PA

Child grooming drama can help us spot danger signs

Colin Peak, NSPCC’s regional head of service London and South East, writes:

Scenes in the BBC’s new three part drama ‘Three Girls’, which is based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale, will have been heart-breaking and harrowing for viewers to watch when it aired.

But the harsh reality is that we need programmes like this to be made if we are ever going to lift the lid on child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Often unseen, it is a horrific crime which may have lifelong effects on its vulnerable young victims.

It can happen to any young person whatever their background, age, gender, race or sexuality. And it can take place online or in the real world.

In some cases, young people are persuaded or forced into exchanging sexual activity for money, drugs, gifts, affection or status.

Sadly, many victims often trust their abuser and don’t understand that they’re being abused as they believe they are in a loving consensual relationship.

Since 2011 the NSPCC’s child sexual exploitation service, Protect and Respect, has directly helped 1,866 children and young people across the UK who have either been sexually exploited, or are at risk of being targeted, with the typical victim being a 15-year-old girl.

To help us protect children further, the NSPCC is encouraging everyone to think about, recognise and speak out against the sexual exploitation of children so we can tackle CSE together.

In order to do this people from all walks of life need to be aware of the signs, children and young people need to learn about healthy relationships, everyone needs to know how to report their concerns, and perpetrators need to be identified and prosecuted.

Young people who are being sexually exploited may:

•be involved in abusive relationships, intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations

•hang out with groups of older people, or antisocial groups, or with other vulnerable peers

•associate with other young people involved in sexual exploitation

•get involved in gangs, gang fights, gang membership

have older boyfriends or girlfriends

•spend time at places of concern, such as hotels or known brothels

•not know where they are, because they have been moved around the country

•go missing from home, care or education

They may also show signs of sexual abuse or grooming.

Do any of the signs of sexual exploitation raise concerns for you?

If so, or if you are concerned for any other reason that a young person is a victim of, or is at risk of, child sexual exploitation, you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email

If you think a child is in immediate danger then don’t delay - call the police on 999.

For more information about CSE and Protect and Respect visit the NSPCC website

Most agree with Corbyn on railway

Ian Sinclair, McGrath Road, Forest Gate, writes:

Lance Forman (Recorder columnist) opposes the Labour Party’s proposals to nationalise the railways and energy industry, arguing that the private sector would run these industries better (Government unable to run big business).

Unfortunately for Mr Forman, the evidence suggests the exact opposite. As Andrew Simms and Stephen Reid from the New Economics Foundation noted in the Guardian in 2013, the “public subsidy to Britain’s railways rose dramatically following privatisation”.

A 2013 report from Manchester University’s Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change confirms this, finding “Direct public expenditure on rail has more than doubled since privatisation and is currently running at £4 billion a year... despite fares which are higher than in other major European countries.

On health, Simms and Reid note “healthcare is typically much more expensive in countries with heavily privatised systems”.

It is clear the general public strongly disagree with Mr Forman, and agree with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with a new YouGov poll finding 60 per cent of respondents supported the nationalisation of the railways (with 25pc favouring privatisation) and 53pc supporting the nationalisation of energy companies (with 31pc favouring privatisation).

Brexit must allow freedom to trade

Derek James, Wards Wharf Approach, Silvertown, writes:

There may be some good arguments for staying in the single market, but the customs union is quite different.

If we remain in that we shall not be able to have free trade with any country outside the EU. We shall not actually be able to make any trade deals with any country as we shall continue to be subject to the common tariff set by the EU.

The rest of the world is moving towards free trade, which clearly brings greater prosperity. Being able to share in this is one of the chief reasons many of us voted to “leave” last June. Some of us particularly want free trade with Commonwealth countries. Many of them would welcome free trade with us. A number of countries in Africa, for instance, would love to sell us more.

Unlike some Brexiteers, I am in favour of continuing to give aid to developing countries but aid is a poor substitute for trade. Increased trade will be good not just economically, but for self respect. An far from causing any resentment in this country, it will have the opposite effect as the UK will also benefit from free trade.

If the 19th century was the age of European power and wealth, and the 20th that of the USA, the 21st century seems set to become the century of Asian power and wealth. I would be prepared to bet that the 22nd century will be the age of mineral-rich Africa.

Now is the time to reach out more fully to Asia, Africa and Oceania, not to stick with the narrower European vision of the last 44 years.

Newham is, I believe, the most culturally and ethnically diverse authority in the country. There is still time for Stephen Timms to ask his constituents if the do really want to block any chance of free trade with commonwealth and other non-European countries.

Help fundraise to end heart disease

Joanne Howe, British Heart Foundation area fundraising manager for London, writes:

Every year, heart and circulatory disease kills around 13,500 in London and currently, 716,000 people in the city are living with its burden. The need to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat these terrible conditions is more urgent than ever.

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