Coventry part of new ‘Centre of Expertise’ tackling child abuse

Research news

Monday 20 February 2017

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Coventry University is a partner in a new £7.5m centre designed to be the definitive source of research and knowledge on tackling child sexual abuse and exploitation. 

The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse was launched today by the UK Home Office, and will be run by children’s charity Barnardo’s.

It is part of a wider £40m package of measures, announced by the government, to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and to crack down on offenders.

Professor Sarah Brown, from Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, said:

"Our role in the initiative will be to work with practitioners to investigate and understand why people sexually exploit children, what the triggers are, and which children are most vulnerable to exploitation. If we are able to identify motivations, high risk situations and children who may be targeted, practitioners and agencies will be more able to prevent it.”

The new centre is a consortium of health, law enforcement and social care professionals, charities and academics, and will receive £7.5m until 2020.

The government’s measures also include an extra £20m for the National Crime Agency to tackle online child sexual exploitation, £2.2m for organisations working to protect children at risk of trafficking and the launch of Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) in three early-adopter sites across the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

“Children should be able to grow up free from the horrors of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Something that should go without saying, but sadly that's not the case.”

Barnardo’s chief executive, Javed Khan, said:

“Through the Centre of Expertise we will develop a deeper understanding of this abuse so that more children can be protected and helped to recover. We will use our collective experience and expertise to develop a greater understanding of what works in the fight against child sexual abuse and to improve responses.”

The announcement comes as the Government publishes its Tackling child sexual exploitation: progress report, detailing the steps taken so far and what more needs to be done to combat this terrible crime. It follows the 2015 Tackling child sexual exploitation report which set out a programme of work to address on a national scale the failures to protect children and young people seen in Rotherham and elsewhere.

For further information, please contact Alex Roache, external press and media relations officer, Coventry University, on +44 (0)24 7765 5050 or email