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NPCC responds to release of latest report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

02 Feb 2022

Yesterday, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published a report focussing on child sexual abuse and exploitation by organised networks.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Child Protection, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley, said: 

“The protection of all children from exploitation is crucial. We know that some of our most vulnerable young people experience harm which has lifelong consequences and policing is committed to keeping our children safe, and protecting them from abuse in all its forms. 

“We acknowledge the valuable work of the Inquiry and welcome the spotlight on how children at risk of exploitation and who have been harmed by exploitation can be better safeguarded. We will reflect and act on the Inquiry’s findings and we accept the recommendations. 

“We recognise that victims have been failed in the past. Policing has worked hard to learn from its mistakes, and the approach today to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse has evolved, with many examples of innovative police work, positive outcomes for victims, and perpetrators brought to justice. However, we are not complacent, and we recognise there is still more to be done. The Report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse provides an opportunity for policing and partners, to take that process of continuous improvement forward. 

“Some of the issues raised within the Report have  already or are  in the process of being addressed. We know that gaps in data collection, for example, inhibit our ability to fully profile this type of criminality. Over the past year, a regional network of analysts has been established who capture data nationally, to form a rich picture of trends in child sexual exploitation and abuse. This analysis provides a  far more informed response at national and local level. However, we accept that there remain further steps to be taken in our data collection processes, to provide for example, a fuller profile of offender characteristics which will help to better target our resources, better prevent, and better protect. We are committed to continuing to enhance  this area of our work in future and will act robustly on the findings. 

“Victims are at the centre of all we do and must never be made to feel that they are at fault for what has happened to them. We support the focus within the Report on the importance of using the right language in the right way – children who have been subject to exploitation are not “at risk” they have been “harmed”. The language we use, and the way we communicate with those who have experienced trauma is key and we have worked with policing colleagues across the country to ensure our response is always both caring and compassionate . 

“Victims can be assured that when they take the hugely difficult decision to report to police, that they will be treated with empathy and respect. From there an impartial and proportionate investigation will follow. I urge anyone who has suffered in this most appalling way, wherever and whenever this was, to come forward if it is the right time for them.”