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Barnardo’s Scotland is the leading charity in Scotland tackling the problem of child sexual exploitation. For the last twenty years we have provided services to help prevent and support young people out of exploitation, as well as campaigned and lobbied government for greater recognition and action of the problem. We are seriously concerned that the true nature of this problem is not known and is on the increase. Barnardo's Scotland believes that children have the right to grow-up free from abuse and exploitation.

Barnardo's Scotland has worked constructively with the previous Scottish Government on these issues, but received no commitment on these calls. The new Government has been made aware of our calls and has answered Written Questions in Parliament (S4W-00124-125) on whether they plan to update or revise guidelines. It has made no firm commitment.

We have also engaged with a range of other organisations across Scotland including the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (APCOS) on these issues. Currently the University of Bedfordshire is carrying out prevalence research on child sexual exploitation in England and the Welsh Assembly has recently completed a review of its guidelines on child sexual exploitation. It is now time for similar work to be carried out in Scotland.

The 2003 Scottish Government guidance on Vulnerable Children and Young People Sexual Exploitation Through Prostitution, included a commitment to commission research into the scale and nature of child exploitation in Scotland and this research has not yet been carried out.

There is clear cross party concern for CSE issues and we would like to see a clear commitment from the Scottish Government to ascertain the scale of the problem and provide adequate resources to tackle it.