Sexual education in schools
Child grooming is happening in “every town” across the UK, Pace has said Reuters

Child grooming is happening in "every town" across the UK, a charity has revealed.

Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) claim that "thousands" of young people are being affected by some form of sexual abuse, but added that the police are short of the sufficient skill set to deal with such a delicate subject.

The charity's director, Fleur Strong, told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 that large numbers of families are having to deal with a young family member who had been sexually exploited.

"I can show you families from Torquay to Exeter to Norfolk, there are families in Edinburgh, Belfast, all of them who will be suffering from this type of crime that lasts for many families for years and years," said Strong.

"I would say that without doubt there are thousands of families being affected today. This type of child abuse is in every town."

A recent study showed that more than 1,400 children had been abused in Rotherham in the last 20 years, which prompted Pace to say that the police need better training.

The authorities are currently dealing with an "unprecedented" amount of abuse claims, according to the National Child Protection Working Group.

A spokesperson for the National Child Protection Working Group, Detective Superintendent Paul Sanford, told the BBC that the amount of abuse claims they are dealing with is stretching resources and that it "presents a real challenge to the police service, both in terms of finance and the number of trained and experienced personnel we need to investigate all of these cases".

"The Children's Commissioner estimated that some 16,000 children are at high risk of being exploited for sex across our towns and cities. This is unacceptable, and we are committed to doing all we can to root it out and prevent any more of the young and vulnerable becoming victims."