MPs are to investigate the sexual exploitation of children, after England's Deputy Children's Commissioner claimed abuse of girls as young as 11 was taking place "all over the country".

Sue Berelowitz said: "We should start from the assumption that children are being sexually exploited right the way across the country.

"In urban, rural and metropolitan areas, I have hard evidence of children being sexually exploited. That is part of what is going on in some parts of our country. It is very sadistic. It is very violent. It is very ugly."

The Commons Home Affairs Committee has promised a full inquiry into the claims to follow on from their investigation into child protection failings recently highlighted by a case in  Greater Manchester where nine Asian men were convicted of sexually abusing girls as young as 13.

But Ms Berelowitz said all communities and ethnic groups were affected by sexual abuse, citing cases in Derby, Rotherham, Birmingham and Dewsbury that she had heard about during her research for a report due out in September.

The committee's chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said that, given this evidence, its investigation should be widened to look at the national picture.

One of the country's largest internet service providers, TalkTalk recently gave its four million customers the option to block access to pornographic websites but Ms Berelowitz believes that easier access to sexual imagery on mobile phones is at the heart of the problem.

"Parents may think they can control what's going on because they can have a blockage on the computer, but the reality is children can get anything they like on their mobile phones," she added. "It has definitely affected children's thresholds of what they think is normal."

Posted 13/06/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com