A report reveals that Roma children as young as 12 are being sold for sex in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.
Residents in the Govanhill area of Glasgow told The Times newspaper of either being offered children for sex or being approached outside bars by the children themselves.
The newspaper reported that in September 2015, Crosshill and Govanhill Community Council recorded in minutes that an “issue had been raised regarding child prostitution within Govanhill” and youngsters were found to be wandering the streets of the area at night.
Police claimed they have “no information or intelligence to substantiate the concerns” raised by locals but vowed to conduct a complete investigation into the issue.
Govanhill has the highest Roma population in Scotland. Locals said more needed to be done to deal with the problem.
“The sexual exploitation of Roma children in Govanhill is a long-standing issue and has been for 10 years or more,” said Olive Arens, chief executive of Up-2-Us, a charity that works with vulnerable youngsters.
“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,” Arens added.
Detective Superintendent Alwyn Bell, of Greater Glasgow division public protection, said that several statutory and voluntary agencies “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 recognized practice with which such risks can be understood and mitigated on a partnership basis is well established,” Bell said.
But the official admitted that child sexual exploitation “is a constant threat within our communities and an area all partners are alert to.”
Scottish Conservatives called for an independent inquiry into the allegations.
Glasgow MSP Annie Wells: “It’s shocking and heart-breaking to see reports that children are being sold for sex in Govanhill; that concerned community organizations have known about it, yet been unable to do anything about it,” said Glasgow MSP Annie Wells.
“The Scottish Government must set up an independent inquiry to establish all the facts of this case as a matter of urgency,” Wells insisted.—Agencies