Government U-turn on grooming gang report welcomed

Government U-turn on grooming gang report welcomed

By Michael Upton | 20/05/2020

Government U-turn on grooming gang report welcomed

 

MPS Sarah Champion and Alexander Stafford welcomed a U-turn from the government this week on its decision not to publish a report on child grooming gangs.

The Home Office came under fire last month when it refused to release the report, saying it was “internal”, a move CSE survivor Sammy Woodhouse called “a national scandal”.

More than 136,000 across two petitions demanded the findings be made public - and the Government performed an about-face on Tuesday, saying it would publish the report later in the year.

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said she was “hugely relieved” by the news, adding: “It has taken me pushing three Home Secretaries over five years, but it's worth it to get the truth out to protect children.

“The fact it has taken five years to get this vital research is shameful, but I commend Priti Patel for actually getting it released.

“Unless we have accurate offender profiles people start to speculate, at best that is not helpful, worse it leads to smears, targeting the wrong people and racist comments.  

“The evidence is what is needed to allow the law to operate without fear or favour.”

Mr Stafford, MP for Rother Valley, called the paper “an important step in getting justice for all the victims in Rotherham and across the UK”.

Former home secretary Sajid Javid announced the review in 2018, with Mr Javid saying there would be “no no-go areas of inquiry” and “cultural or political sensitivities” could not get in the way of understanding and dealing with the problem.

The Home Office said three weeks ago that the investigations into characteristics of group-based CSE were “internal fact-finding work as part of policy development”.

But it home secretary Priti Patel said on Tuesday that the research would be published after all.

“Victims of these sickening child sex abuse groups have told me how they were let down by the state in the name of political correctness,” she said.

“What happened to these children remains one of the biggest stains on our country's conscience. It is shameful.

“I am determined to deliver justice for victims and ensure something like this can never happen again.”

The Home Office said in a statement that it would publish the paper on group-based child sexual exploitation, which was commissioned by Sajid Javid in 2018, later this year.

An external reference group of experts would review the research before it was released and a national strategy is due to be drawn up setting out a “whole system response” to all forms of child sexual abuse, including group-based offending.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to host a Hidden Harms Summit on Thursday looking at how all sectors can work together to protect vulnerable people during the lockdown.
 

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