Thank you for contacting me about the report into the gang-based grooming and sexual exploitation of children.
In her letter to the committee which administers petitions to Parliament the Home Secretary said:
The petition rightly reflects strong public concern about the abhorrent issue of group-based child sexual exploitation, and members of the public who signed the petition are right to expect a clear response. My officials have been working through the implications of publishing the findings of our work in this area. As set out in our initial response to the petition, it contains information that is operationally sensitive to specific criminal cases, as well as personal information relating to the victims of these devastating crimes.
I strongly believe, however, that insights gained through this work are of wider value, particularly to agencies tasked with safeguarding vulnerable children, so that they can inform both national and local efforts to tackle offending. To that end we will publish the paper on group-based child sexual exploitation this year. The paper will set out our findings and set the direction for future policy and research, whilst remaining sensitive to the need to protect the integrity of law enforcement operations. I am determined to deliver justice for victims and ensure something like this can never happen again.
I am hopeful this … response addresses your concerns and provides reassurance that we will do all we can to end this horrific crime.
In addition to Priti Patel's comments, it is clear that people who abuse children must be stopped, regardless of their race, age, or gender. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is not exclusive to any single culture, community, race or religion. It happens in all areas of the country and can take many different forms. However, you are right that political or cultural sensitivities must not get in the way of preventing and uncovering child abuse.
Law enforcement capacity and capability is being strengthened and investment has been provided to transform policing to respond to changing crimes such as child sexual abuse, including continued funding for the network of police CSE coordinators and analysts who identify organised child sexual abuse across police force boundaries so that offenders are subject to a robust response wherever they offend. This has led to a huge increase in the volume of police activity and an increasing number of CSE cases have been prosecuted in the courts and heavy sentences handed down.
A range of measures have also been introduced to tackle the culture of denial and inaction that has led to children being failed in the past, including creating a new national whistleblowing helpline for public sector workers; and introducing legislation to ensure that exit payments for senior staff can be clawed back where those people are quickly re-employed in the same part of the public sector. This will ensure that those who fail to protect children see the consequences of their actions.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP