Britain's grooming gang shame: Fury at police inaction as damning report reveals failures

A grooming gang victim speaking with GB News

A grooming gang victim speaking with GB News

GB News
Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters

Published: 08/12/2023

- 17:11

Fourteen were found 'requiring improvement' and four were deemed 'inadequate'

Leading campaigners, lawyers, survivors and whistleblowers have slammed the police response to child exploitation gangs after a new report has found widespread failures by forces across the country.

The influential voices have called for urgent action after the police watchdog listed a litany of failures, including persistent victim blaming, poor data collection and a lack of specialist officers.

The review by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found that just nine of the 27 investigations it assessed were “good.”

Fourteen were found “requiring improvement” and four were deemed “inadequate.”

Responding to the report, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Child Protection Ian Critchley said “there is still more to be done”, but outlined that the forces that had invested in specialist teams delivered an “enhanced quality of investigation.”

Jayne Senior

Jayne Senior has slammed the inaction by pollice

GB News

In April, the Home Office announced the creation of a specialist taskforce supported by the National Crime Agency to investigate group-based child sexual exploitation, a campaigning win for this broadcaster, which demanded it in the investigative documentary Grooming Gangs: Britain’s Shame.

The taskforce is now supporting 40 investigations nationally and is being advised by the specialist Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit within the Crown Prosecution Service.

Critchley said the taskforce had “accelerated” police work, claiming that “we are seeing more offenders being brought to justice for current and non-recent group-based offending.”

The HMICFRS review said that over a decade after the crisis of child abuse gangs exploded into the public consciousness, it expected to see a “greater understanding” of the problem.

Instead, it said that it was “disappointed” in “many respects.”

The watchdog added: “We found that an accurate view of group‑based child sexual exploitation still wasn’t available to the police service, data collection was unreliable and intelligence gathering wasn’t prioritised.

“Most forces weren’t gathering data and intelligence on these crimes.”

Elsewhere, it found more than a dozen examples of “inappropriate language” being used by forces.

In one case, case files included the sentence: “Concerns raised [due] to her general proclivity with older men.”

The watchdog said the language “indicates that some police personnel didn’t understand the vulnerability of children.”

Alan Collins, one of the country’s leading solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation, told GB News that it was “astonishing” that the police had been “found wanting” in the investigation of child abuse gangs.

Collins, a partner at Hugh James, added: “The existence of ‘grooming gangs’ has been part of national consciousness for some years and yet the police seem to struggle to fully appreciate what it is all about.

“The Inspectorate has highlighted the regrettable victim-blaming culture that unbelievably still exists. It is very difficult to comprehend how a child can be considered any way responsible for their sexual exploitation by an adult.”

Collins slammed the police for working under the “false narrative of victim blaming.”

Maggie Oliver, the police whistleblower who exposed the grooming gang scandal in Rochdale, told GB News: “This report unfortunately comes as no surprise to me. With almost 20 years of experience in these cases, I see a situation that is just getting worse.”

She added: “One of the main problems is that there is a desperate shortage of experienced, qualified detectives capable of dealing with these sophisticated networks of serial child abusers.”

Over 40% of the 2,000 survivors on the Maggie Oliver Foundation database collected over the past 3 years have been arrested or threatened with arrest after reporting rape or sexual violence.

Oliver said: “This clearly demonstrates that all too often police are still focusing on victims and not perpetrators. They do not understand the effects of trauma, they are not being trained effectively and far too often junior officers are being expected to deal with cases for which they are ill-prepared in every way.”

The HMICFRS review also contributed to the debate surrounding the ethnicity of group-based child abusers.

In April, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman told GB News that “the truth is not racist” as she pointed to the overrepresentation of British Pakistanis in group-based child abuse.

The HMICFRS said that among the 27 investigations it assessed, “the most common ethnic group of offenders was white; the next most common ethnic group was Asian or British Asian.”

It did not give further details and stressed that its sample size of 53 offenders “isn’t fully representative.”

However, it did add that its findings were “consistent with Professor Jay’s statement that the greatest number of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are White men.”

According to the latest census, whites make up 85% of the population and Asians just 8%. The HMICFRS review does not reveal if Asians are overrepresented as abusers in the investigations it assessed.

A study published in 2020, cited by this broadcaster in its influential documentary, found that Pakistanis dominate national grooming gang statistics.

By comparing the number of prosecutions to the overall population it showed that 1 in every 2,200 Muslim men over 16 in England and Wales had been prosecuted for this crime from 1997 to 2017. When it came to Pakistanis, it was 1 in 1,700. In Rotherham, 1 in 73 Muslim men were prosecuted.

A survivor of child abuse from Rotherham told GB News that government authorities are “still ignoring these damning statistics” and “burying their heads in the sand due to political correctness.”

Elizabeth, not her real name, said: “It’s obvious we are going to have majority white sex offenders, it’s a predominantly white country, but we can’t let these big organisations ignore how much other ethnicities are overrepresented in this type of child abuse. It’s gaslighting.”

Maggie Oliver said: “We still have a total unwillingness to question why the grooming gang perpetrators are predominantly British Pakistani Muslim men and address this within these communities themselves.

“We need to open up the conversation and shine a light in the dark corners but police leaders, chief constables and politicians would prefer to ignore it.”

Jayne Senior, the Rotherham whistleblower who exposed the abuse scandal in Rotherham, said: “I’m astonished by this report. We desperately need more specialist officers and this just demonstrates how much can go wrong without that training.”

Last week, the National Crime Agency announced that it was winding down new investigations in the South Yorkshire town, where it has held responsibility for child abuse committed between 1997-2013 since the launch of Operation Stovewood in 2015.

South Yorkshire Police will now take over responsibilities, but Senior said this report showed why people struggle to trust forces.

“After thousands of children were abused in this town, we should be the gold standard of policing after lessons learned from that travesty. People should be coming to South Yorkshire to learn how to deal with this problem, but I’m not confident in them and I fear that those lessons have not been learned.”

Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Poolman said South Yorkshire Police had “developed a far deeper understanding of group-based CSE and have used this to improve our response.”

She added that the force uses “all of the powers available to us as a collective whether that is safeguarding children, exploring all intelligence opportunities or disrupting criminality and taking offenders off our streets.”

The senior officer said “An independent assessment of our work on CSE in Rotherham in 2022 commissioned by the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership found all intelligence was acted upon and dealt with appropriately and it highlighted the excellent partnership working.”

ACC Poolman added that South Yorkshire Police is “playing a key role in sharing some of the difficult lessons of Rotherham to improve the national response to CSE.

“We will continue to play an active role in this and further develop our own knowledge and response with emerging trends.”

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