Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles is seeking reassurances on behalf of the general public that allegations of child sexual exploitation (CSE) are properly investigated across the county.
Following the publication of the Rotherham Report, which he describes as ‘unequivocally horrifying’, the Commissioner has been briefed by Derbyshire Constabulary on the way the Force has tackled such allegations, both in current times and in the past.
“Understandably people want to know whether there are any more shocking revelations in any other part of the country, and I totally understand that,” he said.
“Yesterday I received a briefing from the Constabulary on the approach that has been taken in Derbyshire. I was reassured to learn that in 2008 the Force conducted a full review of all known or possible historical CSE cases, which included a check against Crown Prosecution Service decisions not to take any action. The Constabulary is confident that the appropriate actions were taken.”
“However, we don’t know what we don’t know,so I would like to make it clear to the public that any allegations of child abuse or exploitation either historical or current that are brought to the Force’s attention will be thoroughly investigated.
The Commissioner said it was “vital for the safety of victims and peace of mind of the public” that the police and other authorities are doing everything possible to safeguard vulnerable young people.
He pointed out that in more recent years Derbyshire Constabulary has been recognised for its resolute determination to proactively investigate and bring to justice those responsible for CSE. “With the events in Rotherham showing an inconceivable desire by some parties to sweep the problem under the carpet, it is absolutely devastating to think that victims might not have the confidence to report abuse as a result. Quite obviously, we all need to do more.
“It’s also important to be clear that this is far, far more than a purely police issue. That’s why I will be working with the other responsible authorities to compile an independent verification on the effectiveness of the processes in place in Derbyshire.”
The Commissioner emphasised that there is no sense of complacency, and that perpetrators should be aware that there is no place to hide. “I ask all members of the community to step up to the plate and act responsibly and if they think that someone may be at risk they must report it,” he said.
This, he added, was one instance where he would welcome an increase in recorded crime figures as evidence that people have the confidence to come forward. “It is so important that the public is able to trust that the authorities will protect vulnerable young people and keep them safe.”
He went on: “This type of abuse shatters childhoods and leaves too many victims affected by lasting psychological damage. It is a contemptible crime carried out by despicable groups and individuals. Together with our partners we have a duty to look under the carpet and shine a very bright light into dark corners to expose potential shortfalls. One case missed would be one too many.
“In addition we are working with our partners to raise awareness of Child Sex Exploitation to both young people and parents. We have jointly commissioned a Theatre in Education play produced by Alter Ego which will run in every secondary school in the county in November. Called Chelsea’s Choice, it is a hard hitting play that shows how young people can be sucked into the grooming system practiced by unscrupulous groups.”
Derby City Councillor Fareed Hussain has responsibility for Children and Young People. He said that it was essential that members of the public had confidence in the system. He added: “Derby has substantial recent experience in tackling the exploitation and abuse of a number of girls and young women in the city. Derby’s success in detecting this abuse and successfully prosecuting the perpetrators has helped to highlight the issue nationally.
“We continue to give high priority to protecting children from this form of exploitation, and our joint strategy has been developed to take account of learning from other areas and relevant national guidance. I have seen evidence of good work that has been undertaken by Council, Police and other services around prevention, protection and prosecution in child sex exploitation, and the independent review of this work which was commissioned by the Safeguarding Board in 2013. However, we can never be complacent about this shocking form of abuse of young people and we need to be satisfied that everything possible is being done.”
Alan Charles added: “Despite the robust approach of Derbyshire Constabulary and the Local Authorities there may be people and individuals who may not have felt confident enough to report such abuse before. Please do so now.”
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401
Posted on Friday 5th September 2014