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300 victims groomed and assaulted by Oxfordshire gangs, report finds

Published March 2, 2015 by misty534

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Serious case review finds failings by police and social services as it identifies hundreds of victims

A damning report is expected to disclose that more than 300 young people have been groomed and sexually exploited by gangs in Oxfordshire over the past 15 years.

Systemic failures by police and social services meant victims were subjected to years of sexual torture, rape and trafficking, it is understood.

The victims, mostly girls, come predominantly from Oxford, making it the latest area in Britain to be embroiled in a scandal over the handling of child sex abuse and proving the issue is not confined to inner cities.

One senior investigative source told The Guardian: “If you think you haven’t got a problem in your city or town, you are just not looking for it.”

The report comes after seven men were jailed for a string of horrendous child sex crimes against six victims, aged between 11 and 15, over a seven-year period.

All of the victims had a background in care and their plight was brought to the attention of the authorities on a number of occasions.

The men were jailed in 2013, but a serious case review by the Oxfordshire safeguarding children board will be published on Tuesday.

It is expected to condemn Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire social services for failing to act.

Key findings are will expose how police officers and social workers failed to believe the girls when they detailed the abuse they were suffering, and dismissed their complaints.

The report will also put a figure on the extent of the abuse in Oxfordshire, and is understood to have identified 300 young people who have been subjected to grooming and abuse between 1999 and 2014. All have been spoken to by police or social services.

However, it is feared that the figure may be just the tip of the iceberg.

The latest report follows the Jay report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which found 1,400 young people had been subjected to grooming and abuse in the area over a similar time frame.

Joanna Simons, the chief executive of Oxfordshire county council, announced several weeks ago that she would be stepping down this summer.

The council has said that she will not be replaced and the management structure will be reorganised. However, the decision will now be reviewed after questions were asked about whether correct processes were followed.

The Telegraph

Hundreds at risk of child sex abuse ‘still unknown to authorities’

Published February 17, 2015 by misty534

Hundreds of children at risk of sexual exploitation have not yet been identified by the authorities, a new report has warned.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported in different areas across the country, as it reviews efforts to tackle abuse by gangs and groups.

The OCC claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported
The OCC claims there are wide variations in the rates of child sexual exploitation being reported Credit: PA

In one cluster of nine local authorities with similar demographics and deprivation levels, rates varied as much as one in 10,000 children to 65 in 10,000 children.

Fewer than half – 48 per cent – of local children’s safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all.

Chairman of the inquiry and deputy children’s commissioner, Sue Berelowitz, said while many authorities were making good progress, it often had not yet filtered down to those on the front line.

When we began our inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups in 2012, there were a few lone voices around the country desperately trying to help the child victims.

Thankfully, much has improved and many of the agencies which are responsible for protecting child victims have woken up to this damaging crime. However, it is clear that at the frontline much work is still needed.

– SUE BERELOWITZ, OCC

Fewer than half - 48 per cent - of local children's safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all.
Fewer than half – 48 per cent – of local children’s safeguarding boards said agencies in their area had identified any victims at all. Credit: PA

Campaigns director at the Children’s Society, Peter Grigg, said he hoped the report would serve as a “wake-up call” to police and social services.

It sends a clear message that the time has come to move from plans to real actions to protect children and young people from this horrible crime.

It is shocking that after so many reports, court cases and inquiries on child sex abuse there are still areas of the country where the authorities have no idea how many victims there are.

We have to stop relying solely on children coming forward to report abuse and sexual exploitation. Professionals working with children – the police, teachers, social services and health staff – should pay careful attention to the signs of child sexual exploitation and communicate with each other about it.

They need to listen to children and young people and act with urgency to keep them safe.

– PETER GRIGG, CHILDREN’S SOCIETY

In its latest report, the OCC said it was “worrying” that previous recommendations to improve personal, social and health education (PSHE) lessons in schools, and to make the classes a statutory part of the curriculum, had not yet been approved by the government.

It comes as MPs sitting on the education select committee made similar calls, and recommended sex and relationships should feature as a major component of the classes.

Once again we are calling for age-appropriate relationships and sex education to be made a statutory component of the curriculum.

Young people need to understand what are and what are not healthy relationships.

– SUE BERELOWITZ, OCC