Glasgow children as young as 12 '˜being sold for sex'

CHILDREN as young as 12 are routinely being sold for sex in one of Scotland's most deprived areas, it has been claimed.

Locals say children as young as 12 are being sold into sex slavery in Govanhill in Glasgow. Picture: Laura Ferguson

Locals in the Govanhill area of Glasgow told The Times newspaper of either being offered Roma children for sex or being approached outside bars by youngsters themselves.

The paper said that in September 2015 Crosshill and Govanhill Community Council recorded in minutes that an “issue had been raised regarding child prostitution within Govanhill” and children were seen to be wandering the streets at night.

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Residents of Govanhill - which has the highest Roma population in Scotland - said more needed to be done to tackle the problem.

Olive Arens, chief executive of Up-2-Us, a charity that works with vulnerable teenagers, told the paper: “The sexual exploitation of Roma children in Govanhill is a long-standing issue and has been for 10 years or more.

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“You can see the activity. It is children and adults making deals in huddles. It is very clear what was taking place but nothing ever happened to stop it.”

Detective Superintendent Alwyn Bell, of Greater Glasgow division public protection, said: “Glasgow Child Protection Committee and the numerous statutory and voluntary agencies represented have robust, well-established child protection procedures.

“CSE (child sexual exploitation) is an integral part of these procedures and the identification of risk factors associated with CSE and subsequent recognised practice with which such risks can be understood and mitigated on a partnership basis is well established.

“These procedures have been tested previously with a number of CSE enquiries having been jointly undertaken and reported to COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service).

“CSE is a constant threat within our communities and an area all partners are alert to.

“As a partnership, we constantly review our procedures in an attempt to continuously improve our services and learn from good practice elsewhere.

“This has seen the introduction of a multi-agency CSE steering group within which those children at significant risk of CSE will be assessed to ensure effective safeguarding, sharing of information, prevention strategies and enforcement opportunities are all explored and maximised.

“Child protection is everyone’s responsibility and, as a partnership, we actively encourage our local communities to report anything that appears suspicious or gives cause for concern.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur has called for an emergency statement to Holyrood.

He said: “The claims that this activity is happening are sickening.

“We urgently need to know what reports have been received by any of the agencies involved in protecting these children and what action was taken as a result.”

The Scottish Conservatives said an independent inquiry examining the allegations should be held.

Glasgow MSP Annie Wells said: “It’s shocking and heart-breaking to see reports that children are being sold for sex in Govanhill; that concerned community organisations have known about it, yet been unable to do anything about it.

“The Scottish Government must set up an independent inquiry to establish all the facts of this case as a matter of urgency.”