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NPCC responds to Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse report

20 Oct 2022

The final report of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales has been published today. National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Child Protection, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley, reflects on its significance and what this means for policing. 

The final report published by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse today includes a number of recommendations with implications for policing which we will now carefully consider. 

Policing has developed a far deeper and more meaningful understanding of child sexual exploitation and abuse in recent years, and we acknowledge the invaluable work of the Inquiry which has made a significant number of recommendations on how vulnerable children can be better safeguarded. We now need time to reflect on the content of this comprehensive report as we work with government and our partners, especially survivor groups, to develop a considered plan of action setting out how policing will respond to the recommendations made today.

The statutory inquiry identified that in the past many victims have been failed. This is not good enough, and on behalf of policing, I apologise to those victims who were failed and have carried the trauma of abuse with them. We have listened to your powerful, courageous and brave voice throughout this Inquiry.  Policing has worked hard to learn from its mistakes, and the approach today to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse has evolved and is much improved in many aspects.  However, there is still much for us to do, and making these improvements is a significant priority for national policing.

 We have quite rightly invested a huge amount of time, effort and resources in responding to previous recommendations made by the IICSA. There are many examples of innovative police work resulting in better outcomes for victims, and more perpetrators being brought to justice.  I must also acknowledge the significant contribution of the hard working and dedicated police officers, staff, and partners who work tirelessly to protect and safeguard children and bring offenders of these appalling crimes to justice.

Our officers understand and acknowledge the challenges many victims and survivors must overcome in making the often-difficult decision to come forward and report offences committed against them. All victims should be treated with the highest level of professionalism and care, if they decide it is right for them to come forward and report to the police.

 We must now reflect on this most significant report. Policing hasn’t always got things right, but we move forward with strong resolve and a commitment to victims and survivors. They will be heard, believed, and supported, and their allegations will result in a proportionate, professional, and evidence led investigation. It is the duty of us all to prevent these crimes that have a lifelong impact on victims, but when we can’t do this, I want victims to have the confidence to come forward knowing they will be treated with empathy and compassion at all times. 

The recommendations made in this report have implications for policing at a national and local level and I am committed to continued engagement with our partners and stakeholders as we work to strengthen our approach to child protection and provide strong leadership through some of the most challenging investigations carried out by policing. We remain dedicated to our relentless pursuit of offenders and work determinedly to bring them to justice as we tackle this most abhorrent abuse. Every child has the right to thrive in our society, protected from harm and supported by the institutions trusted with their care.

NPCC lead for Child Protection, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley