Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

I fully agree that it is our responsibility to protect 16 and 17 year olds from the horrific crime of sexual abuse. Following the "Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation" report in March 2015, it is a requirement that all police officers are trained in responding to child sexual exploitation more effectively. The guidance has been revised, so that clear information about how to identify child abuse and neglect and what action to take is provided. 
I agree that we definitely need to send a very clear message to the perpetrators about how seriously the Government takes these crimes, and similarly our intent to deal with it. The courts will always consider a case more seriously when the victim is a child, and this includes 16 or 17 year olds. The Sentencing Council's definitive guidance on sexual offences came into effect in April 2014, and it provides for the courts to sentence individuals more severely in cases where victims are particularly vulnerable, as will often be the case with sexual exploitation involving 16 or 17 year olds.