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MPs brand police treatment of child sexual exploitation victims a “postcode lottery”

Published October 28, 2014 by JS2

Lack of trust means young victims are reluctant to ask the police for help, a cross-party group of MPs report

The way police treat child victims of trafficking or sexual abuse is a ‘postcode lottery’, according to a report by MPs.

The damning report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children found a “lack of trust” between young victims and the police.

The report said that children who have been trafficked or sexually abused said they felt confused by police processes and that they were treated with a lack of respect. Too often the positive encounters these children experienced with police were due to “the enthusiasm of a handful of staff” as good practice is not widespread, the MPs noted.

“When these children come to the attention of the police under suspicion of having committed an offence, their status as victims can go unnoticed,” the report noted.

The report, the result of a 15-month inquiry by MPs and written with support from the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), also found that children who are in care or have mental health issues are more likely to come into contact with the police.

MPs found that children in care do not always get the support and protection they need, and called for guidance and protocols to be put in place to reduce “the criminalisation of children in care”.

Young people interviewed as part of the inquiry told MPs how the police were being called to deal with problems in residential homes, which would have been managed without police involvement in a school or family setting.

“Witnesses who had experienced time in care spoke of how the police were often stern with them if they ran away, raising their voices and not behaving in a supportive way which demonstrated a concern for their welfare,” the report said. “Children in care tend to only engage with the police at times of crisis, preventing them from forming a more positive view of the police.”

As a result young people in care were often reluctant to ask the police for help.

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Scots charity demands crackdown on child sexual abuse images

Published June 2, 2013 by JS2

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A Scottish children’s charity has called for a review of how the justice system deals with people convicted of viewing online images of children being sexually abused.

Children 1st is writing to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill as part of its demand for a consistent approach to the prosecution and sentencing of such offences across the country.

The charity is also calling for police and the courts to use the full range of powers available to them in cases involving sexual abuse images.

The demand is part of the charity’s ongoing See.Hear.Speak.Act campaign on sexual abuse, and comes in the wake of the recent conviction of Mark Bridger for the murder of five-year-old April Jones in Wales last year.

Bridger had viewed images of children being sexually assaulted on his computer. In a separate case earlier this year, the Old Bailey heard how Stuart Hazell, jailed for murdering 12-year-old Tia Sharp, had searched for images of children being sexually abused on the internet.

The cases have prompted UK-wide calls for greater action to tackle the problem.

Kate Higgins, policy manager at Children 1st, said she believes there is currently too much inconsistency in the sentencing of those convicted of viewing child sexual abuse images in Scotland.

She said: “Our overall call is just for there to be a review of how we’re handling these kind of offences to make sure that they are being prosecuted appropriately and that sentencing is consistent.

“That’s a key way of sending a strong message to society about the seriousness of these offences.”

The charity is demanding that the justice system uses the full range of powers already at its disposal to protect children, particularly Risk of Sexual Harm Orders (RSHOs) and Sexual Offence Prevention Orders (SOPOs).

Such measures allow restrictions to be placed on anyone behaving in a way that suggests they may be a risk to children. However, Children 1st said the most recently-available statistics indicate these powers are not being used enough as an effective preventative measure.

Ms Higgins said some legal experts have raised concerns about RSHOs in particular, because of how the legislation surrounding it is drafted.

“Our response is — if that’s the case, that should be part of the review. If we have something that can’t be used because it’s faulty then we have to improve that.

“We’re calling on the Justice Secretary to work out what’s going on. We need to understand why they’re not being used. If it’s because, as lawyers have suggested, that the legislation is badly drafted, then that needs to be addressed.

“If it’s simply because people are not sure how to use them and there’s a need for training and awareness raising then let’s do that.

“There’s no point in the Government having created measures that they want in place to help protect children from sexual harm if the system is not then using them.

“Let’s see where the weaknesses are and see what we can do to improve upon this.”

Ms Higgins also said some sheriffs have claimed to feel hamstrung by the way some cases are brought to court.

She pointed to a case in Inverness where a sheriff reportedly criticised the fact she was only able to impose a maximum sentence of one year on a man who downloaded almost 500 child sex abuse images because the case was prosecuted at summary level.

“We just need to review it all because here are key ways in which we could be doing more to protect children,” said Ms Higgins.

“In both the April Jones and Tia Sharp cases you had men who made the leap from viewing — albeit increasingly shocking — abusive images, to actually committing murder.

“There is clearly a role that the availability of abusive material is having to bear on abusers making that leap.

“We need to making sure we’re using all the powers and measures we can to encourage people not to do it and not to think that it’s acceptable to view abusive images of children.”

 

STV news

Bradford paedophile jailed for kidnapping girl, six

Published January 16, 2013 by JS2

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A PREDATORY sex offender who kidnapped and molested a six-year-old girl has been jailed indefinitely.

Car salesman Qamar Malik, 28, from Bradford, who had committed previous sex offences when he was a juvenile, carried out his latest attack despite being visited by police after he was suspected of trying to entice a 12-year-old girl into his vehicle.

Judge Peter Benson, sitting at Bradford Crown Court, jailed Malik under the imprisonment for public protection legislation and told him he would have to serve at least two-and-a-half years before being considered for release.

Malik’s 12-year-old victim had the presence of mind to take down his registration number after he twice tried to get her into his vehicle last July.

Judge Benson said it was disturbing that despite being spoken to by the police in connection with those allegations Malik, of Parsonage Road, West Bowling, had gone on to commit the further offence involving the six-year-old girl just a few weeks later.

She had been playing with friends when she went missing and was later found crying by the side of the road.

Malik had pulled her into his car and made her sit in the footwell of the passenger seat.

Malik was convicted following a trial of two allegations of attempted kidnap, one of kidnap and one of sexual activity.

Judge Benson made Malik subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order which restricts any unsupervised contact with children and he will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Detective Constable Sharon Cooper described Malik as a “depraved individual”.

She praised the victim for helping remove Malik from the streets.

“This man was predatory in his behaviour and clearly a threat to those who encountered him.

“I am extremely pleased to see he will now serve a considerable custodial sentence, preventing him from causing further harm to our community.”

 

Boys in care were allegedly being groomed for sex at parties at a south-west London house attended by well-known and powerful figures. James Hanning and Paul Cahalan investigate

Published December 17, 2012 by JS2

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There is no more ordinary-looking row of suburban Edwardian houses in the country than Rocks Lane, south-west London. But nowhere has given rise to such an outlandish series of allegations than the one formerly known as Elm Guest House. The claims are now being re-investigated by the Metropolitan Police, decades after they were first made. Attempts have been made by care workers to lay bare the secrets of Rocks Lane but to no avail. Whatever the outcome of their investigations in the past, the police seem convinced that a number of serious wrongs need to be righted.

Rocks Lane is a conspiracy theorist’s dream, taking in allegations of the grooming of young boys in care for sex, elaborate gay parties involving senior public figures including members of the Conservative Party, charges of a police cover-up and even the suggestion of murder. The police believe that in the context of the Jimmy Savile scandal and renewed claims over the treatment of boys in care in North Wales, there is every reason to look again at an extremely murky saga.

A month ago, in conditions of the utmost secrecy (so much so that nothing was even put on computers), the Metropolitan Police set up Operation Fairbank, to look into, among other things, allegations made by Tom Watson in the House of Commons. The Labour MP had spoken of a “powerful paedophile ring” and its links to a previous prime minister’s “senior adviser”. Mr Watson has been uncharacteristically diffident about speaking to journalists on the issue since then, saying that he is passing on any information to the police. He said yesterday: “I’m not seeking to add any specific allegations myself, but hope that my comments will help the authorities get to the bottom of this.”

What is known is that in the late 1970s, the Elm Guest House on Rocks Lane was a safe, unthreatening meeting place for homosexual men free from the stigma of a sexual orientation legalised barely a decade earlier. According to a former friend of Carole Kasir, the guest house’s German-born manager, she initially regarded herself as offering gay men an opportunity to “be themselves” without fear. Rocks Lane, which overlooks a playing field, was known to homosexual men as it is close to Barnes Common, itself popular with gay men for cruising.

But Elm Guest House’s willingness to accommodate a small industry (“It became a convenient place for rent boys to take their clients,” says one person familiar with the place), began to attract the attentions of the local police force. One neighbour remembers a months-long police stakeout: “They were there all the time. Police hiding behind the trees to look at the property was a running joke with the neighbours.”

In 1982, the police learned that one of the guest house’s parties was to take place, and the Met’s notorious Special Patrol Group, the precursor of the Territorial Support Group, duly raided the property, resulting in a number of charges being brought against Kasir. The fact that two police officers were in the house at the time of the raid has fed the speculation. The IoS has established that, according to an officer closely involved at the time, two officers were embedded as guests in the property for two or three days, one even pretending to have a broken arm, hiding a police radio in a plaster cast to make secret recordings. If there was a cover-up, it appears not to have involved the local police force, who seem to have been assiduous in seeking to have the place closed down.

As many as 12 boys gave evidence to the police to the effect that they had been abused by men at the house, The IoS has established, but the only conviction was the comparatively minor one of running a disorderly house (ie, a brothel). “Abused boys do not always make the most impressive of witnesses once they get into the witness box,” someone involved in the case said. “The real unlawful activity was underage sex. The police should have been able to make the other charges stick, but the boys were only ever interviewed with a view to them being witnesses against Carole, not as kids who were abused themselves.”

The place continued to attract speculation. Who was at that party has never been established, but as time went on, more and more allegations began to emerge about Rocks Lane. The local police paved the way for the raid, but at some stage Special Branch felt the need to get involved. Why was that, some have asked, unless there was something even murkier going on? Child-protection campaigners alleged that boys had been taken from a local council-run home and abused, a line of investigation that police are now pursuing.

What makes the Rocks Lane story so tantalising for the media is the list of alleged attendees at the parties. One source suggested that Anthony Blunt, former keeper of the Queen’s pictures and an exposed Soviet mole, used to go the parties, but then Blunt’s notoriety made him a magnet for any number of fanciful theories. Those who knew him say the idea is absurd, and that his sexual tastes were far more conventional. Others have spoken of two High Court judges and a Foreign Office official attending. Chris Fay, a social worker who worked for a small charity, the National Association for Young People in Care (Naypic), has alleged that a terrified Kasir had shown him about 20 photographs of middle-aged men with young boys, taken at what he said were kings and queens fancy-dress parties, attended by a number of powerful and well-known people. One, Mr Fay alleged, featured a well-known public figure wearing nothing but a French maid’s apron alongside a young boy nude apart from a tiara.

In 1990, at the age of 47, Kasir was found dead in her flat. The coroner’s inquest concluded that, a diabetic, she had suffered an insulin overdose. Two Naypic employees told the coroner they believed that because she seemingly had not had an insulin injection for three days, she had been murdered, the victim of powerful people who feared she knew too much. Nonetheless, she was found to have committed suicide, worn down by an eight-year battle to have her son, who was taken into care after her conviction, returned to her.

So was the story of Rocks Lane (now mercifully restored to blameless respectability) just another one of consenting adults “romping” behind lace curtains? Or was it qualitatively different, involving something much nastier and more exploitative? Since 1990, ineffectual efforts have been made to overturn this vast stone. A reported 2003 “inquiry”, which ended up being examined by the IPCC, foundered, frustratingly, on unsupported evidence based on the wrong time frame. But now, with child abuse no longer regarded as unthinkable, the climate seems to be changing.

Tom Watson’s Commons statement brought forward a flood of emails from the public. Police have been hindered by the loss of many documents and impassioned but unverifiable testimony, much of which has surfaced on the internet. The allegations deserving of most scrutiny, though, have seemingly eluded the web. The two surviving Naypic employees are reluctant to discuss the case, but it is believed the police are interviewing what, tellingly, they now refer to as “victims”, and are encouraging others to come forward.

The alleged presence of household names adds to the intrigue, but in a celeb-obsessed age, there is a danger that, should such names not materialise, Rocks Lane will be seen as “just another” child abuse case. Yet police sources fear that dozens of boys were either taken or on the run from care homes to be abused. By any standards, that should be a big story.

Victims of child abuse in Northern Ireland are still waiting for an inquiry into abuse at Catholic church and state-run institutions between 1973 and 1989. It followed the Ryan report in the Republic of Ire
land, which found that sexual and psychological abuse was “endemic” in Catholic-run schools and orphanages for most of the 20th century.

In 2010, a three-year investigation into child abuse in Jersey led to seven people being convicted for a series of assaults they inflicted on children, mainly at the Haut de la Garenne home, from the 1970s onwards. Police took 1,776 statements from 192 alleged victims during the course of their inquiry.

Many victims there believe more abuse remains uncovered. An investigation into claims that Savile had abused girls in Jersey was launched last month.

Jimmy Savile abuse: Number of alleged victims reaches 450

Published December 13, 2012 by JS2

Police have confirmed that the number of alleged sex abuse victims of the late Jimmy Savile has reached 450.

The Operation Yewtree team said 589 alleged victims have come forward during their investigation of offences committed by Savile and others.

Of the alleged victims, 82% were female and 80% were children or young people.

Meanwhile, police have set up Operation Fairbank to investigate allegations by Labour MP Tom Watson of a paedophile ring in high places.

Mr Watson said in October that police should investigate claims of a “powerful paedophile ring” linked to a previous prime minister’s “senior adviser” and Parliament.

‘Exploited his position’

Savile, who died last year aged 84, was a Radio 1 DJ and the presenter of the Jim’ll Fix It show on BBC One.

Operation Yewtree, which launched 10 weeks ago, has a team of 30 officers and has so far cost about £2m.

Police said on Wednesday they have recorded 199 alleged crimes in 17 police force areas against Savile.

They said they had recorded 31 allegations of rape against Savile in seven force areas.

Met Police Commander Peter Spindler, head of Operation Yewtree, said: “Savile’s offending peaked in the 70s and what we can show, or will be showing in the New Year, is how he used his position in society across the country – the crimes relate to 17 different police force areas – how he exploited this position to get his sexual gratification.”

BBC home affairs correspondent Matt Prodger says the level of allegations against Savile – 450 in total – is unprecedented – never before have police received that number of allegations against a single person.

Our correspondent says he believes the police have a total of 20 suspects whom they wish to interview. They have interviewed seven people in total – six of whom were arrested.

Operation Fairbank

The Met Police and the NSPCC are preparing a joint report of their findings to be published in January.

Police also said there had been a four-fold increase in people reporting allegations of sexual assault unrelated to Savile, both recent and older cases.

There were 55 reports of “non-recent” rape and serious sexual offences in the month prior to the launch of Operation Yewtree, compared to 299 in the month following it, police said.

The BBC has announced two inquiries as a result of the abuse claims and a further review into the corporation’s current sexual harassment policies.

There is a further investigation into the circumstances surrounding the dropping of a Newsnight investigation into Savile.

Other inquiries being carried out into the Savile affair include the director of public prosecutions’ review into the decision not to prosecute Savile in 2009.

The Met Police said Operation Fairbank was launched in October after Mr Watson passed on information to police.

A spokesman said police were looking at the information but it was “too early to say it’s an investigation of sorts”.

“As with any information, it is being treated with the utmost seriousness,” the spokesman said, adding that police wanted to hear from anyone with any further information.

Mr Watson told the BBC: “A number of people have made allegations to me. The matter is now rightly in the hands of the police.”

Pervert jailed for internet sex offences

Published April 12, 2012 by JS2

A PERVERT who asked women in the Philippines to expose their daughters to him over the internet has been jailed for nine years by a judge in Cardiff.

John Crotty took advantage of poor families in the Far East while living in sheltered accommodation in the Rhymney Valley.

The 54-year-old promised presents or money to the mums to film their daughters in the shower or sleeping naked in their beds while asking to see their young bodies exposed.

In one recorded computer chat he had with a mother, he asked her child’s age and on being told the little girl was just five asked to see her body.

That mother ended their contact telling him he was abnormal and a maniac, but Judge David Wynn Morgan said some were so desperate they were prepared to satisfy his sexual interests online.

He told Crotty: “This took sophisticated planning and careful grooming of the mothers and was carried out with persistence and manipulation.

“You have a perverted interest in pre-pubescent girls, have shown no insight into your offending and have wickedly sought to blame others.”

During his trial at Cardiff Crown Court, Crotty claimed friends must have been in his warden-controlled flat at Ysgwydd Gwyn, Jenkins Row, Deri, and used his computer while he was asleep.

But the jury was told he didn’t get up until lunchtime because he was awake, at his computer, through the night.

In a case believed to be one of the first of its kind in Wales, he had denied charges of arranging child prostitution or pornography 7,000 miles from home, attempting to arrange the commission of child sex offences and possessing indecent images of children.

A jury unanimously found him guilty.

The court heart Crotty met the women either in computer chat rooms or on visits to the Philippines.

He was told five years of his sentence would be custodial, and he will remain on licence and subject to recall to prison until 2021.

His name will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and he is banned from ever working with children.

A Sexual Offences Prevention Order was also imposed to prevent him ever living in the same house as a child under 16 or having unsupervised contact with a child.

He is also banned from using any internet device which does not store a history of its use, and will have to make it available to the police for inspection if a request is made.

Wales online