I was interested to note the comments of the Home Affairs Select Committee when they told two Senior Officers from South Yorkshire Police that they needed to “get a grip’ on child abuse.
The comments, made yesterday, came on the same day as I received a Legal Aid Certificate for a client allowing me to proceed with an action against the Police for their failure to prevent the abuse of my client, who was passed around various paedophile rings in the North West including the ring in Rochdale that led to the arrest of nine men earlier this year. In this case, the victim’s mother had contacted both the police and social services on numerous occasions to alert them to what was occurring with her daughter. Despite this, there were no attempts to intervene or investigate.
I firmly believe that the Police must accept some responsibility for what has happened. It is far more difficult to bring a claim against the Police than against Social Services, but not impossible. It will be interesting to see how this claim against the Police proceeds; it may well be a precursor for many similar claims where the Police have failed to protect the victims of abuse and have failed to take any steps to use their powers to prosecute the abusers.
I have spoken to victims and their families who feel that Police inaction has empowered the abusers. Members of paedophile rings have laughed in the faces of family members when they have tried to prevent the abuse; safe in the knowledge that the Police were not interested and would not intervene and prosecute.
Against this background the Police must accept some culpability for the horrendous experiences and long term damage of these children.
By Jonathan Bridge, Child Abuse Lawyer