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Government and industry discuss new plans to support abuse victims at Hidden Harms Summit

22 May, 2020

The government has announced new measures to support vulnerable groups in lockdown, including a codeword for domestic abuse victims and more investment to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Hidden Harms Summit – which was opened yesterday by prime minister Boris Johnson – brought together representatives from government, law enforcement agencies and charities to discuss the new challenges abuse victims face as a result of COVID-19.

Under the new plans, shop workers will be trained to identify when a person is suffering from domestic abuse and to then relay the information to law enforcement.

And with children spending more time online during lockdown, there will also be extra funds available to tackle child sex offenders on the dark web plus increased support for young people who have been sexually exploited.

“I am acutely aware that for some people home is not a safe space, and that coronavirus has brought with it additional dangers,” said prime minister Boris Johnson ahead of the summit.

“Just as I am committed to tackling the virus, we have to support the most vulnerable and keep them safe from harm and exploitation. That is why it is vital that we come together and bring all our collective expertise to ensure we are doing everything we can to support those at risk, and to help them rebuild their lives.”

The National Crime Agency (NCA) will receive an additional £10m to continue the fight against child sexual abuse and exploitation content online, and a further £3.36m has been allocated to projects to understand the threat posed by the most serious criminals.

This follows the government’s decision to dedicate £76m of extra funding to enable charities which work with and safeguard vulnerable groups to continue their work in these difficult times. Those funds are part of a £750m support package which was announced in April

“Now more than ever, we must make sure the most vulnerable children and families in our society are protected from any hidden harms they may face, including abuse, exploitation or neglect,” said education secretary Gavin Williamson ahead of the summit.

“We know that the nature of such harms have changed, and this summit is an opportunity for us to reaffirm our wholehearted commitment to working together to keep children safe."


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