Family and children behind more child sexual abuse than grooming gangs, figures suggest | Bolt Burdon Kemp Family and children behind more child sexual abuse than grooming gangs, figures suggest | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Family and children behind more child sexual abuse than grooming gangs, figures suggest

Child abuse is more frequently perpetrated by family members and other children than by grooming gangs, recent analysis by a police taskforce indicates.

The taskforce, established by the Government in April 2023, was initially created to combat grooming gangs, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described as “evil”. However, only 19% of the cases investigated so far involve such networks.

Instead, 27% of cases involve family members and 22% involve other children.

The Government launched this initiative with the intent of addressing the politically sensitive issue of grooming gangs, often linked to British-Pakistani males.

The taskforce was designed to deploy experienced officers to tackle these crimes. Despite the Government’s focus, police data now refers to the taskforce as the Child Sexual Exploitation Taskforce, broadening the scope to encompass various forms of child abuse.

A major goal of the taskforce is to improve data collection on child abuse, leading to the creation of a Complex and Organised Child Abuse Database to track severe cases.

In its first year, the taskforce identified 6,740 suspects, with 1,071 linked to group-based child sexual exploitation or grooming gangs.

These gangs typically involve men forming relationships with children to exploit them sexually, as seen in notorious cases in Rotherham, Rochdale, Telford, and Oxford.

Contrary to previous Government claims, recent figures show 85% of offenders in complex child abuse cases declared themselves as white, with only 6% identifying as Asian. This challenges the narrative that grooming gangs are predominantly composed of British-Pakistani males.

Home Secretary James Cleverly acknowledged that while grooming gangs are a problem, they are not the sole issue in child exploitation.

Gabrielle Shaw, CEO of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), warned that the Government’s focus on grooming gangs might marginalise other victims of child abuse. She emphasised the need to broaden the narrative to ensure all victims feel validated and supported. Only a small percentage of abuse victims report their experiences to the police, highlighting a significant trust deficit.

The taskforce not only investigates allegations but also trains officers to provide effective support to victims, with the goal of strengthening prosecutions and ensuring comprehensive care for all victims of child abuse.

In the last 12 months it has helped police officers arrest more than 550 suspects and protect more than 4,000 victims, figures out this week show.

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