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.
Rotherham is sadly just the latest in a long, and growing, list of British towns and cities which has experienced grooming by Pakistani/Kashmiri gangs. So, if it is right to call on public institutions like the BBC and the NHS to review procedures and the Catholic Church to address abuse by its clergy, we should not shy away from dealing with the problem within specific communities.
I think it is time to prioritise child abuse as a public health issue like heart disease, smoking and obesity. These diseases get a high profile in part because they have a cost, not only in human misery but also for the economy. The NSPCC is currently researching the economic costs to the UK of child sexual abuse and it is likely that it will be billions of pounds of year.
It would be naïve to suggest that we can completely eradicate child sexual exploitation. Like any other crime it will continue to be committed while there remain individuals intent on committing it. However what we can do is ensure that we put in place a legal framework that has the welfare of young victims at its heart. It is my hope that this inquiry will help to achieve this.
Child sexual abuse images and videos are nearly always a symptom of abuse. In many instances they are instrumental in building to the physical abuse of a child. As horrifying as this may be, the digital trail of this kind of content presents an opportunity to find and prevent abuse. By tracking the symptom, we can tackle the problem.