Watchdog called in to look at police response to child sexual exploitation

A scathing report published in February found there are ‘extensive failures’ in the way child sexual exploitation by criminal gangs is tackled.

24 March 2022

The Home Secretary has called in a watchdog to carry out an inspection into how police respond to child sexual exploitation.

Priti Patel has commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to look into the subject “at the earliest opportunity”, the Home Office said.

It comes after a scathing report published in February found there are “extensive failures” in the way child sexual exploitation by criminal gangs is tackled, with police and authorities potentially downplaying the scale of abuse over concerns about negative publicity.

Child victims – some of whom reported being raped, abused, and in one case forced to perform sex acts on a group of 23 men while held at gunpoint – were often blamed by authorities for the ordeals they suffered while some were even slapped with criminal records for offences closely linked to their sexual exploitation.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said there was “a flawed assumption” that child sexual exploitation was “on the wane”, with councils and police forces denying the scale of the problem, despite evidence to the contrary.

A number of other reviews of problems in areas such as Bradford, “highlighted inadequacies in past responses to this horrific crime”, the Home Office said, adding: “This national inspection will ensure learning from past mistakes is being applied by police forces across the country, so that they can respond effectively to all victims and bring more offenders to justice.”

Ms Patel said: “Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and exploitation have told me how they have been failed by the state in the name of political correctness.

“Although I believe the policing response to these issues has evolved, I want to ensure current practice is relentless in protecting children, supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice, which is why I am requesting this inspection.”

The investigation will assess whether police forces in England and Wales are using the “most effective approaches in protecting victims from CSE (child sexual exploitation) and relentlessly pursuing offenders”.

It will look at the attitudes of police towards victims, the effectiveness of assessments, the scale of offending and the “nature, adequacy and timeliness of responses”.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.