Understanding Party Positio...

Understanding Party Positions on Adult Sexual Exploitation in the Upcoming General Election

July 2024

4 Min Read

In the latest of our series of blogs analysing what the main party manifestos have to say about themes that affect the people who access our services, Jess Creaby-Attwood, ASE Policy Officer, looks at whether any of the parties will take action to tackle adult sexual exploitation.

The sexual exploitation of adults is hidden in the cracks of society across this country, whereby the most vulnerable people are systemically targeted for abuse and trapped with no way to escape. Countless people are falling through the gaps and not receiving necessary support because their experiences are not being recognised.

Recent government policy has focused primarily on child sexual exploitation, at the expense of adults who are also subject to this horrific form of abuse. Many adults whose abuse began in childhood find that support drops off when they turn 18, despite nothing about the exploitation changing. Furthermore, policy that disproportionately focuses on child victims neglects the 73% of adult victims whose abuse began in adulthood. 

So, how will the next government support victim/survivors of adult sexual exploitation (ASE)?

In our open letter to party leaders, we have identified three key pillars for change to adequately support victims of adult sexual exploitation:

  • Perception: The creation of a statutory definition of adult sexual exploitation and accompanying guidance to improve understanding and the support offered to victim/survivors.
  • Prevalence: Commissioned research to estimate the prevalence of ASE across the UK to develop plans for ongoing data collection.
  • Protection: A commitment to review the Care Act to better protect vulnerable adults.

While none of the main party manifestos directly reference ASE, many plans outlined would lead to better support for adult survivors of sexual exploitation.


The Conservative manifesto outlines a focus on policing and tougher sentencing of crimes surrounding VAWG. They plan to toughen sentences for murders that take place within the context of domestic abuse with new aggravating factors, such as if they involve coercive and controlling behaviour. They will also introduce a 25-year prison term for domestic murders, regardless of whether a weapon is used, and those who kill their domestic abusers will not face the same starting point for sentencing.

In a continuation of the work of Operation Soteria, the Conservatives will introduce a new investigatory model for rape for police forces and prosecutors and will introduce pre-recorded examinations for victims in all Crown Courts.

Many victims of ASE have experienced this at the hands of grooming gangs. As part of the introduction of a redress scheme for the victims of child sexual abuse in institutional settings, they will make a national apology to grooming gang victims. The Conservative manifesto also commits to working to end human trafficking and modern slavery.


The Labour manifesto particularly focuses on prevention and outlines a ten-year plan to halve violence against women and girls by targeting perpetrators and addressing the root causes of abuse and violence. Labour commit to fast-tracking rape cases to combat low conviction rates due to victims dropping out of the justice system due to delays. They also outline misogyny as a root cause of VAWG and plan to better address this in schools including teaching young people about healthy relationships and consent.

Policing and sentencing measures are also outlined including strengthening stalking protection orders, the introduction of a new criminal offence for spiking, and building on the online safety act.

Labour have also outlined plans to introduce specialist rape and sexual offences teams in every police force, legal advocates in every police force area to advise victims from the moment of report to trial, and domestic abuse experts in 999 control rooms.

Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats outline protection measures for both VAWG and modern slavery, including the establishment of a Women’s Justice Board, the full implementation of the Istanbul Convention, and the reversal of Conservative’s rollbacks of modern slavery protections. To tackle delays in domestic abuse support they will expand on the number of refuges and rape crisis centres and will ensure sustainable funding for services to support survivors of domestic abuse, with a particular focus on community-based and specialist ‘by and for’ services.  

The manifesto also highlights plans to tackle online harms through the requirement for social media companies to publish reports setting out the action they have taken to address online abuse against women and girls, and other groups who share a protected characteristic.

In recognition of the role of misogyny as directly linked to VAWG, the manifesto outlines the plan to make misogyny a hate crime and give police and prosecutors the resources and training to prevent and prosecute all hate crimes while supporting survivors. Like Labour, the Liberal Democrats have committed to introducing domestic abuse experts in 999 control rooms.

Green Party

The Green Party also plan to tackle misogyny by making it a hate crime. They plan to push for the development of a new UK-wide strategy to tackle gender-based violence, including domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, female genital mutilation, and trafficking. They will fund local authorities for the provision of domestic violence, rape crisis and other services. Uniquely, they also will push for the decriminalisation of sex work.

Reform UK

Reform UK do not address the topic of violence against women and girls or modern slavery.

As a charity, Changing Lives remains politically neutral and does not endorse any particular party or candidate. We have focused on the main parties that cover the whole of the UK, which means we have not included an analysis of the policies of parties that only operate in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. This is a non-exhaustive analysis of each party’s policies.

The full manifesto of each party is available to read here: ConservativeLabourLiberal DemocratGreenReform UK.