CALLS have been made for an inquiry into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Govanhill despite police and council bosses saying claims cannot be substantiated.

An article in The Times quoted local residents as saying they had been propositioned for sex by Roma children while an unnamed social worker said Roma parents are "pimping" their children.

Residents say children of all ages are "routinely" being offered for sex on the area's streets and outside pubs.

However, the anti-discrimination organisation Friends of Romano Lav described the allegations as “spurious” and expressed concern that child protection issues were being “racialised”.

A spokesman said it had been working in Govanhill, home to Scotland’s largest Roma community, for four years.

He said: “During this time we have not encountered any instances of the child protection issues described.”

Police Scotland said it will be interviewing everyone named in the article to discover why " there is a perception of Child Sexual Exploitation in the Govanhill area."

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Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty: "Child Sexual Exploitation is a constant threat in all our communities and an area that all our partners are alive to.

"Any suggestion that any of the agencies who are charged with protecting children in Glasgow would not take that responsibility seriously is simply not true.

"That said we will never be complacent when it comes to the safety of children and whilst we have no information or intelligence to substantiate the concerns described in the article we will carry out a full investigation into the claims.

"Our local policing teams work with various partners in Govanhill area and are doing some remarkable work in the local area.

"In that regard I would ask anyone with any information concerning the safety of any child in Glasgow to contact the police or social work department and the matter will be thoroughly investigated along with partners."

Claims of CSE in Govanhill are not new with the issue first reported by the Evening Times's sister title, the Sunday Herald, around 12 years ago.

However, Police Scotland has consistently said there is no evidence of the issue.

Local residents claim the problem is ignored due to racial sensitivities and say men are regularly propositioned for sex by children.

Labour councillor Soryia Siddique and Tory MP Annie Wells are now calling for an investigation.

Ms Siddique said: "There should be an urgent investigation and should these allegations prove to be true, a Child Task Force set up to include Police Scotland, Social Work, Education and the NHS to identify and protect children and convict the perpetrators of crime.

"There must be a process set up immediately where any vulnerable child, parent, health worker, teacher or anyone from the community with information, suspicion or concerns about any child can speak to in confidence."

Glasgow MSP Annie Wells described the reports as "shocking and heart-breaking".

Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Claire Baker called for a full and transparent inquiry into investigating the reports.

She said: "We should not waste any time in finding out what is actually happening in the streets of our largest city."

Glasgow City Council said the issue is being treated with "utmost seriousness" but said a thorough check showed no incidents mentioned in the Times article had been reported to authorities.

The spokesman said: “We are fully alert to the risk of child sexual exploitation in Glasgow.

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“This is a form of abuse that can take place in all parts of the city and be found within all communities, regardless of ethnicity.

“This issue is being treated with the utmost seriousness at the highest level within the council.

“When information on alleged incidents of child sexual exploitation is provided to us we will always act on that information.

“The protection of vulnerable children is at the absolute core of the work we do and racial sensitivities have never been an impediment to how we deal with child sexual exploitation.

“The incidents highlighted today have been looked at by staff and we are not aware of these ever being reported to our support services.

“If people have information about instances of child sexual exploitation then they should report their concerns to police or a social worker.

“There has been a substantial effort to raise awareness of the nature of child sexual exploitation so that frontline workers in the public, private and third sectors can help identify those young people who may be at risk.

“Our action plan is also tightly focused on supporting young people to make positive choices and to help steer them away from any risk of exploitation.

“Tackling child sexual exploitation remains a top priority for the city’s child protection committee.

“We will continue to ensure all of our policies, procedures and practices are as robust as possible to ensure we do everything we can to divert vulnerable young people away from harm.”