At least 10 organised criminal syndicates are targeting girls and boys in London for sexual abuse, says one of the Met’s most senior officers.
Some men pick up runaways and other vulnerable children in cars. Other abusers are leaders of organised street gangs who use their power to pressure girls into sex.
Scotland Yard warns that nearly 3,000 London children could be at risk of abuse or other mistreatment that requires intervention by police or other child protection experts.
It will heighten concern about the scale of hidden child sex abuse in the capital. The findings follow a warning last year by the deputy children’s commissioner that thousands of youngsters nationwide are being subjected to sexual abuse by gangs and other groups after scandals involving the exploitation of girls in Oxfordshire and Rochdale. Mr Rowley said the Met’s new figures were the result of a new referral system for identifying children at risk which had already picked up 487 cases during a six-month pilot in a handful of boroughs.