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What is Sammy’s Law and What Does it Mean for Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation?

Police chiefs and England’s children’s commissioner have backed calls for child sexual abuse victims to be pardoned for crimes they committed while being groomed.  The campaign to introduce ‘Sammy’s law’ is being led by Sammy Woodhouse, who, as a teenager, was abused by a child grooming gang in Rotherham.

She said: ”For people like me, who were prosecuted as exploited children, we now have to disclose our abuse at job interviews to explain our criminal records. We need to take into consideration if those people are now a risk and still offending as some do. We need to look at people as individuals.  Sammy believes that this means many young people, also in the same situation as she once was, then have to relive their abuse and cannot move on with their lives. She is championing Sammy’s Law, a campaign to change the law to allow victims of grooming and abuse to have their criminal records expunged where they were directed to commit those crimes by their attackers. The campaign is being backed by several Police Chief’s, MP’s and child protection experts in a bid to minimise the impact on victims.

Sarah Champion, the ex Labour MP for Rotherham who campaigns on behalf of abuse survivors, said a Sammy’s law would release survivors from the damaging smear forced upon them by their abusers . She said abusers leading their victims into crime was a key part of the grooming process and was used to isolate the children from their family and friends, Champion added: The policerecord for survivors of CSE (child sexual exploitation) makes them a lifelong victim of coercive control. It dogs every aspect of their life, from job applications to the shame of being found out.

”A criminal record can stop people like me from having a decent future. We have the right to move forward. I deserve to be cleared so I can move on,” Miss Woodhouse said, ‘individual circumstances’ should be taken into account, as abuse victims with criminal records not of their doing are often unable to get jobs because of their history.”

Find out about asphaleia action’s SAFE project here.

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