A British government minister has warned that the recent spate of cases of children groomed for sex in the country is just "the tip of an iceberg" and the situation is far worse.
Tim Loughton, the Children's Minister, said that he has long thought that the grooming of children for sex is a 'much bigger problem than it may appear now on the radar'.
"We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg now. For too long it was something of a taboo issue in this country, little spoken about, little appreciated, little acknowledged or dealt with," the Telegraph quoted Loughton, as saying.
"Few local authorities had much idea about how prevalent child sexual exploitation was in their areas and as a result there was a real and tragic failure to grasp the scale of the problem," he added.
According to the paper, Loughton also said recent court cases show the authorities are 'at last waking up' to the scandal.
Loughton's remarks came after a series of recent cases in which men have been jailed for grooming young girls for sex.
The most high-profile prosecution has been against nine Muslim men, eight of Pakistani origin, who were found guilty of grooming young white girls for sex in Rochdale.