Hundreds of girls and young women victims of sex grooming gangs were blamed for their own abuse by the authorities who failed to tackle the problem, a report says.
Lapses by police and social services in Newcastle upon Tyne, including a “lack of professional curiosity” when vulnerable girls were found with groups of older men, allowed the gangs, mainly of south Asian origin, to carry on for years. Eventually, in 2014, Northumbria police began an operation to combat sexual exploitation, trafficking and modern day slavery.
Operation Sanctuary identified about 700 victims. Controversial tactics used by officers on one strand saw the force pay a convicted child rapist almost £10,000 to spy on parties where girls were drugged and sexually abused.
The findings of a serious case review were published yesterday by Newcastle’s child and adult safeguarding boards. The review found that victims, many of them in care, were often blamed for seeming to consent to the crimes committed against them.
The Guardian view on tackling sexual exploitation: listening to victims is not enough
A review of authorities’ response to men grooming women and children in Newcastle shows what can and must be done
The 700 children and vulnerable women groomed and abused by gangs in north-east England were “harmed beyond imagination”, in the words of one victim. Some showed remarkable courage in giving evidence despite years of manipulation, threats and violence. Their bravery led to the conviction of 17 men and one woman last August; Northumbria police’s broader investigation of sexual exploitation continues.
The serious case review compiled by the retired barrister David Spicer shows that victims were let down by authorities in Newcastle in the past. Incidents were treated independently, and victims felt that – while perpetrators were unaffected – they were punished, for example by placing them in secure accommodation. Though meant for their protection, it sent the wrong message, encouraging “an arrogant persistence” among abusers. But while the case has obvious parallels with other recent cases – notably the appalling abuse seen in Rotherham – authorities responded very differently overall. The review notes a dramatic improvement from 2014 onwards, as police and local authorities worked together to protect the vulnerable and bring offenders to justice. Thus, it tells us not only what can go wrong but also what works and must be built upon – and what is needed next.
Grooming is still rife in Britain: Stark warning as shocking report says police gave gangs the ‘green light’ to sexually abuse 700 girls and women
Grooming gangs are still sexually abusing girls and young women across the country despite repeated warnings and prosecutions, a shocking report revealed yesterday.
Efforts to stop the exploitation have been hampered by the authorities’ failure to understand why abusers target vulnerable white girls, the investigation found.
The author of a report into the latest abuse scandal yesterday urged the Government to order a national study into the ‘cultural influences’ on the offenders, predominantly from an ‘Asian British’ background.
Newastle Safeguarding Children Board and Newcastle Safeguarding Adults Board
Joint Serious Case Review Concerning Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adults with Needs for Care and Support in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Operation Sanctuary review finds adult abuse ‘extensive’ Vulnerable women are most likely being “extensively” abused across the UK and ministers need to urgently review sex exploitation laws, a report says. David Spicer led a review in the wake of Operation … Continue reading