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Over 200 contacts made with information about child sexual abuse following BBC Crimewatch programme

06 Mar 2017

A Crimewatch special “Catching the Abusers” focusing on the work of Operation Hydrant in coordinating the police response to allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse has led to calls reporting abuse and sharing information.

Crimewatch followed cases from the around the country showing how allegations of child sexual abuse that spanned back decades were corroborated and offenders brought to justice. Victims and survivors told their stories and explained what they had gained from finally breaking the long burden of silence.

BBC Crimewatch Executive Editor, Joe Mather said:

“The response to the programme is one of the most significant we have seen in the history of Crimewatch. Every line available within our live studio location was fully engaged throughout the duration of the programme, and calls continued to be made to the BBC off site call centre even after transmission.”

Operation Hydrant and BBC Crimewatch worked with the NSPCC to offer the opportunity for viewers to contact the NSPCC’s experienced staff for help and advice through their confidential 24/7 helpline.

NSPCC Helpline Team Manager Sandra Robinson said:

“At the NSPCC we know that seeing others speak out about the abuse they have suffered can encourage people who have never spoken up to finally do so. It’s clear that Monday’s programme, and the moving stories of survivors gave many people the courage to come forward. Our free, confidential helpline is there day and night, 365 days a year, for anyone who would like help or support or to report concerns.”

234 contacts were made with Crimewatch and the NSPCC following the broadcast. Since broadcast on February 27, the NSPCC has received over 300 calls as a result of people watching it– a 21 per cent increase on contacts compared with the week commencing 13 February.

All the information received is being triaged by Operation Hydrant, prioritised depending on threat of risk and harm, and passed to a police force to take the appropriate action.

Crimewatch’s Executive Editor Joe Mather said:

“While the response from the public triggered by the Crimewatch programme was fantastic, we know that there were many calls that simply could not get through on our studio lines. Despite our best efforts to open up as many lines as possible, we know there are people out there who did not get the chance to share what they wanted to say.

Although the Crimewatch phone lines are now closed, you can still contact your local police force directly by dialling 101 or reporting online. Alternatively, the NSPCC helpline number remains open 24/7, and there are a number of national victim and survivor groups listed on the BBC Crimewatch website who can provide advice and support.”

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:

“I would urge anybody who struggled to get through following the BBC Crimewatch programme to consider reporting to police – whether you are a victim or someone who has relevant information.

“We know that abusers can continue to abuse, even into old age.  You may be providing information that could help to protect the children of today and prevent them becoming the victims of tomorrow.

“Anyone who comes forward will be listened to and taken seriously. The information provided will be recorded and an impartial investigation will be launched with our priority being to identify and act on any current risks to children.

“The volume of contacts means that it may take some time for an officer to get back to you, but everyone who made contact following the Crimewatch programme can be assured that all information provided is being assessed and acted upon.”


  • Operation Hydrant provides operational coordination for the police service in respect of allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse where the allegation relates to a person of public prominence, or is alleged to have taken place within an institutional setting. Operation Hydrant does not have an investigative function – investigations are owned and progressed by the force local to the allegation.
  • The figure of 234 contacts refers to contacts made by the public via phone, text, and email to the live location studio, the BBC call centre, and the NSPCC helpline. The information offered in each of these contacts will be analysed to determine the number of victims or suspects which may be identified through the information offered – it does not relate to the number of suspects, victims, or investigations. The process of analysing information to determine these figures remains ongoing.
  • The Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel, chaired by CC Simon Bailey, reviews cases of child sexual offences previously investigated and marked no further action before 5 June 2013. However, if the decision not to proceed was taken after 5 June 2013 then the case should be referred to the Victim Right to Review.
  • The NSPCC’s free helpline provides adults with a place they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child, or get general information about child protection. Adults can contact the helpline 24 hours a day on 0808 800 5000 or visit Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111.