Andrew Smith MP

On your side in Oxford East

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Andrew's statement on Bullfinch convictions

ADS_HEADSHOT_1.jpgI am shocked and horrified at these awful crimes. The guilty must be punished and feel the full force of the law. 

The victims, children who should have been protected and cared for, have been very brave in giving their evidence. We owe it to them and all who might be at risk to make a mighty effort to prevent such abuse in future.

It is terrible to think that this went on for so long before the hideous reality was uncovered thanks to police and social services' action. The authorities must get to the bottom of how children in care were left so vulnerable, and what can be done to take good care of those at risk in future. 

We must remember that these sorts of crimes are condemned by people of all races and religions, just as neither victims nor perpetrators are confined to any particular group. The background of those convicted in this case does, though, show how important it is that every community is fully engaged in work to combat grooming and abuse of children.

It is vital we put in place effective measures to protect children. Children and parents must be educated in the risks and tell-tale signs and have someone to go to for support and advice. We all have a responsibility to report suspicious activity to the police. In Oxfordshire the new joint unit bringing together police, social services, education, and the health service in combating child sexual abuse is a good step. Every part of the country needs such action.

The sad lesson of this and similar cases is that whilst most children can enjoy a childhood free from such horrors, there is a bigger risk out there than was realised. We all have a responsibility to play our part in making sure every child is safe.

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