The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has revealed extensive local authority and police failures in their response to the changing nature of grooming and child sexual abuse in England and Wales.
It is the inquiry’s eighteenth report since establishment in 2015, looking at six case study areas in England and Wales and focusing on 33 child victims. The individuals gave evidence and described their experiences between 2003 and 2011.
The report highlights the ‘flawed assumption’ that child sexual exploitation has decreased in recent years, rather it has become a hidden problem. The scale of child sexual exploitation in the UK is largely unknown and cannot be quantified, yet it is clear that the problem extends far beyond the realms of current knowledge.
Child sexual exploitation largely falls below the radar not only because survivors are afraid to come forward, but because Local Authorities have failed to keep pace with the changing nature of sexual exploitation networks. For instance, perpetrators have found new ways to groom younger children, moving their way into channels such as social media and dating sites.
Allowing perpetrators to hide behind an online façade, it is easy to imagine how the internet can assist the grooming process.
Whilst the report details the reasons why abuse may go unidentified, it also criticises UK Local Authorities and police forces for their response where there are clear signs of exploitation.
In one case, a boy of 13 was repeatedly absconding from care to attend parties in hotels, where he would be sexually abused. The Met Police decided that this was not a sexual exploitation case, based purely upon a single telephone call with social workers. There was no communication with the child or his family and no action was taken against the hotel.
Similar failures were found in all six areas included in the Inquiry.
In another case, a survivor told the inquiry that she was abused from the age of 12. She was forced to perform a sex act on more than 20 adult men. A number of men were charged, although the charges were later dropped. A few months later she was abducted by another group of men at gunpoint before being returned to care where she reported falling into a cycle of repeated self-harm.
Another survivor stated that care home staff knew that she and other girls were being sexually exploited, yet nothing was done to help them.
Nonetheless, it seems that failing to act is not the sole issue in these cases. The report describes instances of victim blaming whereby children are told that they are placing themselves in danger. Quite remarkably, one child in Warwickshire was described by the police as ‘promiscuous’ and another in Durham was told she was taking risks with her sexualised behaviour.
Clearly, a culture of victim blaming deters survivors from coming forward and should be avoided at all costs.
At Farleys, we sadly see similar failings on the part of UK Authorities far too often. Children taken into care by the Local Authority are often highly vulnerable and this makes them susceptible to abuse. For this reason, it is important that the Local Authority protects them from harm.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Within our specialist abuse department, we regularly see this type of exploitation and the long-term impact that it has on survivors. Often abuse is preventable, yet failings by the Local Authority allow it to go untreated, compounding the effect upon the lives of survivors.
For these victims there is no way to escape the abuse that they have been subjected to. However, pursuing a claim can help clients to bring closure to their ordeal and provide them with the resources to fund medical treatments and therapy.
If you or someone you know has be victim to abuse whilst under the care of the Local Authority. We are available to help and assist. Call our abuse line on 0330 134 6430 to speak with a member of our dedicated team who will deal with your enquiry with the utmost confidentiality and integrity. If you’d prefer, you can also contact us by email or through the online chat below.