British prime minister David Cameron has stressed the importance of putting an end to child sexual abuse, which he describes as taking place on an “industrial scale”.

At a Downing Street conference last week, Mr Cameron spoke about the need to work together to help protect youngsters from sexual exploitation.

Addressing the members of the conference, who were made up of victims, police officers, child protection experts and ministers, the prime minister said: “I think it’s very important we take a step back and just recognise the horrific nature of what has happened in our country.”

His pledge followed the release of a report that revealed how 370 girls aged as young as 11 had been abused and groomed by gangs in Oxfordshire and Rotherham over a period of 16 years, while officials took no notice.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cameron said: “Young girls – and they are young – are being abused over and over again on an industrial scale, being raped, being passed from one bunch of perpetrators to another bunch of perpetrators.

“And all the while this has happened with too many organisations and too many people walking on by.”

“And we have got to really resolve that this stops here, it doesn’t happen again and we recognise abuse for what it is.”

The plans proposed by the prime minister during the meeting involved:

  • The creation of a national helpline to allow professionals to report any cases of bad practice.
  • Individuals and organisations being fined for being shown to let children down.
  • Senior staff who leave an abuse council having their pay-offs taken back if it is shown that children were not protected under their responsibility.

He added that consequences should be set in place if professionals fail to take necessary action.

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