Earlier this year Durham Police became the first police force in the UK to introduce training for their staff to specifically target child abuse. This training is known as ‘Intervene to Protect a Child’ (IPC) and was developed by Dr Joe Sullivan, a renowned expert on child sex abuse who has assisted police forces internationally. The successful results of this training can now be seen and this week the police have announced plans to extend the training nationally.

IPC training aims to equip officers with skills which will allow them to recognise the clues that may suggest a child is a victim of abuse or is at risk of being abused. It also intends to enable officers to identify and recognise the signs of a potential perpetrator. A further objective of the training is to increase staff confidence of expressing concerns in relation to child sex abuse where they may previously have remained silent.

This training was first used in the US by the Texas Rangers, teaching officers how to apply the principles of forensic behavioural analysis to their routine interactions. Hailed as a ‘significant success’, the training is reported to have saved more than 150 young people from abuse within three years.

As a result of this training in the UK, PCSOs have been able to identify the traits of an abuser and have already safeguarded children. Mr Grundy, a PCSO at Durham Police, is one officer who has put the training to use. He was visiting a convicted sex offender, who he describes having a ‘chatty relationship’ with, when he recognised the signs of an abuser, as taught by the IPC training. It transpired that the man had been in contact with a young girl. Mr Grundy contacted the force’s public protection unit who in turn spoke to social services, consequently safeguarding a young girl from sexual abuse.

The skills learned from participating in the training can be used in all encounters – not just with those connected to sexual abuse. As well as being aimed at police officers, the training is also provided to professionals who come into contact with children and families. In order to extend the training nationally, Durham Police has been holding events across the UK to inform and advise other police forces, health and education services. Dr Sullivan states that the training allows professionals “who are not child protection specialists to view their everyday, routine interactions with members of the public through a different lens”.

The results indicate that the training will have the same level of success as in the US. This should encourage other police forces to adopt the training. Durham Police are also the first UK force to use a ‘remote suite’ to allow victims of sexual assault to give evidence away from court. The introduction of these two programmes indicates a move forward in the treatment of victims of sexual abuse and also the handling of abuse cases. The training will hopefully reduce the figure of child sex abuse in the UK, currently at 36,429 (NSPCC, 2015).

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, we can help support you in moving on with your life by pursuing an abuse claim. We now have an online anonymous abuse service allowing victims to talk to a specialist solicitor in an environment in which they feel comfortable. For further information or to speak to a dedicated member of our abuse claims team please don’t hesitate to call 0333 920 6925. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.