City campaigners have today (Thursday, June 27) pledged to make it easier for victims of human trafficking to come forward.
It comes as seven members of an organised gang were jailed at the Old Bailey for grooming and sexually abusing vulnerable girls in Oxford.
The catalogue of abuse stretched back eight years despite some of the victims reporting it to police and social services.
Andy Dipper, from OXCAT (Oxford Community Against Trafficking) said: “Lessons need to be learnt and quickly. We want to make sure other victims understand we will listen, and we will believe them.”
Earlier this month MPs called for reforms such as the introduction of specialist courts to deal with child exploitation cases.
They also said local authorities should have more funding in place for prevention and early intervention in an effort to stop the abuse.
Andy added: “We have heard the recommendations from our senior politicians and now we must see action. There simply isn’t time to waste.
“Victims are being stigmatised and discouraged from reporting their horrific abuse because of a system which is ponderous, accusatory and further traumatises them.
“The community, police and social services need to provide a safe haven for anyone – young or old, male or female – who is a victim of this horrendous crime.
“Be in no doubt, OXCAT will be applying constant pressure to see changes in our justice system and care services. Don’t forget this happened in Oxford, in our neighbourhood.”