Po­lice re­spond to damn­ing re­port on child ex­ploita­tion

Force in­sists tack­ling CSE is a pri­or­ity and it is now in a stronger po­si­tion to achieve this

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - by KATY CLIFTON katy.clifton@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Katy_Clifton1

THAMES Val­ley Po­lice has re­sponded to a damn­ing re­view into child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion (CSE) in Buck­ing­hamshire which sug­gested more needs to be done to tackle lo­cal child abuse.

The re­view, car­ried out by Buck­ing­hamshire Safe­guard­ing Chil­dren Board (BSCB) and pub­lished last week, out­lined past fail­ings of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, ar­eas of strengths and ar­eas of weak­nesses.

The re­port sug­gested past vic­tims thought signs of CSE, like go­ing miss­ing and self-harm­ing, could go un­no­ticed and some young­sters who asked for help were sim­ply “not heard”.

An­other is­sue high­lighted was that some vic­tims thought their first ex­pe­ri­ence with Thames Val­ley Po­lice was poor and oth­ers felt judged for their ap­pear­ance or ac­tions.

How­ever, other young vic­tims gave pos­i­tive feed­back and called the po­lice of­fi­cers “stars”; now Thames Val­ley Po­lice have re­sponded to the re­port.

A spokesman said: “This re­port high­lights ar­eas of im­prove­ment for the Force, as well as ar­eas in which vic­tims of CSE and their fam­i­lies have been pleased with the ser­vice which has been pro­vided.

“Tack­ling CSE is a pri­or­ity for Thames Val­ley Po­lice, and where we sus­pect there are in­stances of it tak­ing place, we will con­duct thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tions in or­der to dis­rupt it.

“Th­ese cases are in­ves­ti­gated by ex­pe­ri­enced and highly trained de­tec­tives in our Ma­jor Crime team, and we are now in a stronger po­si­tion to iden­tify, pre­vent, dis­rupt and make prose­cu­tions.

“The wel­fare of vic­tims is a pri­or­ity for the force, and we have ded­i­cated and spe­cially trained po­lice of­fi­cers who are avail­able to work with them.

“We are com­mit­ted to work­ing with our part­ner agen­cies in or­der to of­fer the best pos­si­ble sup­port to vic­tims, while also en­sur­ing that th­ese crimes are in­ves­ti­gated thor­oughly and of­fend­ers are brought to jus­tice.”

Since 1998, there have been more than 10 po­lice oper­a­tions across the county in­volv­ing 100 chil­dren and young peo­ple, some who are now adults.

Fol­low­ing their re­view, the BSCB has made 14 rec­om­men­da­tions for ar­eas which can be strength­ened, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing a broader aware­ness of CSE, more ef­fec­tive in­for­ma­tion­shar­ing and the in­tro­duc­tion of a na­tional data­base of all li­censed driv­ers.

An NSPCC spokesman also re­sponded to the re­view and said: “It is clear that some vul­ner­a­ble young vic­tims of child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion have been let down by in­ad­e­quate ser­vices in the past and it’s now cru­cial that each of this re­view’s rec- om­men­da­tions are swiftly adopted.

“Wor­ry­ing gaps in the pro­vi­sion of ser­vices in Buck­ing­hamshire have been im­proved over time and this re­view high­lights the pos­i­tive change that has been made.

“Child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion is all too of­ten a hid­den crime and, in­creas­ingly, young peo­ple are be­ing groomed by abus- ers on the in­ter­net, so par­ents and carers need to be vig­i­lant. We all have a duty to look out for a child’s wel­fare and adults with con­cerns can call the NSPCC on 0808 500 1111.”

The press con­fer­ence for the se­ri­ous case re­view pub­li­ca­tion.

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