The Daily Telegraph

Thousands of child abusers freed without conditions

- By Charles Hymas Home Affairs editor

AROUND 3,000 suspected child abusers were released back into their community by police without any conditions in the space of a year, putting victims at risk, a study found.

The number arrested for child abuse but then “released under investigat­ion” without conditions, rose more than 10-fold, from 261 to 2,993 in just a year, since bail reforms were introduced in 2017, according to police data supplied to MPS.

By contrast, the number released on police bail with legally binding restrictio­ns to stop them going near victims more than halved from 4,657 in 2016-17 to 2,036 in 2017-18, according to Freedom of Informatio­n requests to police forces.

“This has had serious ramificati­ons for the safety of survivors and their confidence in police to keep them and their families safe if they report abuse,” said the report by an all-party parliament­ary group on child abuse led by Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham.

“Pertinentl­y, one in five survivors told our survey they did not report to police as they feared further violence from the perpetrato­r.

“When a suspect is ‘released under investigat­ion’, police cannot place safeguardi­ng conditions on them, for example, preventing them from contacting the survivor or from attending the survivor’s home or workplace.”

Nearly half (46 per cent) of child abuse victims have so far chosen not to report to police, according to the survey of victims by the all party group.

Thirty per cent said they did not think the police would successful­ly apprehend and prosecute the perpetrato­r, while 27 per cent thought the police would be unsupporti­ve.

Ms Champion said victims were not asking for “special treatment”. “Rather, they just need criminal justice agencies that are able to recognise that many survivors are traumatise­d individual­s and need a service that is understand­ing of their needs,” she said.

“The situation is urgent. If victims do not believe the criminal justice system is credible then there is a real danger, they will refuse to engage with it.”

The disclosure comes after Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced a consultati­on on proposals to scale back the bail reforms. A Home Office spokesman said; “The public consultati­on will help ensure that the needs of victims are put first and that police investigat­e crimes effectivel­y and swiftly.”

The MPS’ survey also found most victims felt they did not have the appropriat­e support or informatio­n as they went through with their cases.

Seven in 10 (69 per cent) said that they were not given appropriat­e explanatio­n or support when attending court, while three quarters said they were not informed about their abuser’s parole or the process involved in releasing them from jail.

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