Doubt and fear of getting it wrong must play on people's minds even if they are worried. Often there are no obvious, physical signs of neglect. But if a child you know shows signs of not being fed or clothed properly, is missing school a lot or is left unsupervised and alone inappropriately for their age, we urge people to alert the professionals. I remember speaking to Claire [not her real name], one of our many fantastic foster carers. She has been looking after a 15-year-old boy who came into her care about two years ago, having suffered years of neglect. She spoke of how he looked like an 'eight-year-old' because he had been so badly underfed...
In a practical sense, no single remedy can address this endemic issue. Instead a range of solutions, constituting a holistic approach, are required. Firstly, a truly independent inquiry should be commissioned - one which is not led by any of the institutions implicated in the case, and further not implemented by a high profile man or men.
Every day, we work with vulnerable children, many of whom have experienced or are at risk of child sexual exploitation. This horrific abuse has affected a number of children supported by our services, whether related to risks to those in residential or foster care, or to young parents receiving our help. Awareness must be raised and professionals, children, and their carers must be educated about the risks around exploitation, as well as ways to guard against it.
The press has a role to play in scandals of this type. We need them to highlight this kind of horror and help us try to understand how such sickening events can continue for so very long unhindered. But we need them to do it responsibly. Deciding that one person is to blame for a situation which has been going on for decades - and is probably going on in other areas of the country too - does them no credit.
The growth in portable USB devices and mobile storage means there is a disturbing trend of offenders increasingly bringing illegal images or videos into the workplace. In fact, many businesses are already unwittingly storing, and allowing the movement of, illegal images and videos across their networks.
Children who may be suffering or who are at greater risk of neglect, but whose circumstances do not reach an authority's threshold to receive social care support, are less likely to get the help that they need. Instead, their situations can be allowed to deteriorate to become even more desperate or dangerous. It is a tragedy that due to a lack of gathering the right information, children whose lives could be improved are needlessly put at further risk. Child neglect can be stopped in its tracks.
There are very few crimes which provoke such powerful emotions as child sexual abuse. The predatory paedophiles who commit these vile and abhorrent offences destroy the lives of their vulnerable victims for their own depraved gratification. It is a stain on civilised society, and one this government is absolutely determined to remove.