Grooming 'much larger than thought'
The issue of children being groomed for sex is being seriously underestimated by police, social services and charities, an assessment for ministers has reportedly warned.
Authorities are failing to properly investigate the problem, which the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) describes as a "hidden issue", The Times said.
More than 2,000 young victims of grooming have been identified since January 2008 - but they are likely to form just a fraction of the total number affected, the report is expected to reveal.
Among the findings of Ceop's five-month inquiry is that a fifth of the perpetrators of grooming identified were of Asian origin, the newspaper reported.
But the problem cannot be pinned on a particular ethnic group, the report is expected to say.
Children who go missing or run away were found to be particularly vulnerable to grooming, it will also say.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said much more work needed to be carried out to find out the scale of grooming across the country.
He told The Times: "The findings are a cause for enormous concern because it appears to be a much larger issue than originally imagined."
(Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre )