Over 1400 suspects investigated for child sexual abuse by people of public prominence, or within institutions

May 31, 2015 3:08 pm

This is set against the backdrop of indicative figures showing that police caseload for reports of child sexual abuse has increased 71 per cent in the last three years

In the summer of 2014, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Child Abuse Investigation, Chief Constable Simon Bailey established a coordination hub, Operation Hydrant, to oversee the investigation of allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse within institutions or by people of public prominence.

Police forces are currently notifying Operation Hydrant of all active cases fitting this criteria. Hydrant staff are then identifying links between investigations and preventing duplication between forces. They do not have any control over the investigations themselves.

Since the establishment of the Goddard Panel Enquiry, officers and staff from Operation Hydrant have also been working closely with the Panel Secretariat acting as the interface with the police service. Working relationships are well established and there is a constant flow of information between the secretariat and Hydrant staff.

To date Operation Hydrant has received reports of:

1433 suspects of which 216 are deceased

666 suspects related to institutions

261 classified as people of public prominence

506 are classified as unidentified

357 institutions have been identified within the scope of the operation.

CC Bailey said: “Operation Hydrant has been established to help senior investigating officers across the country to work together to ensure that these complex investigations are successfully managed and that best practice is identified and shared with frontline staff.”

The NPCC Child Protection and Abuse Investigations Working Group has examined figures from 12 police forces within England and Wales looking at their caseload of child sexual abuse incidents from 2012 to the first quarter of 2015. These have been extrapolated across all 43 forces and projected to the end of 2015.

They show a rise in incidents from 66,120 in 2012 to a projected 113,291 cases in 2015, which is a potential 71 per cent increase in the overall number of cases reported to police over the last three years. Recent cases have risen by 31 per cent and non-recent cases have risen by 165 per cent.

CC Simon Bailey said: “These figures are stark. They indicate the scale of child abuse police are dealing with.

“Much public and media focus has been on horrors committed by well-known personalities, groups, gangs or in institutions, but the vast majority of victims are abused by family members or friends.

“Police have done a huge amount to meet the challenge: we have responded to criticism, changed how we engage with victims and how we investigate abuse. Many victims have now found confidence to report abuse, knowing we will treat them sensitively, respectfully, listen to them and take reports of their abuse seriously. I would encourage all victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report their abuse.

“We face a massive challenge, in terms of resources, time and expertise, to balance offering routes to justice for those who suffered in the past while safeguarding and protecting children in a vulnerable position now.

“We cannot measure protecting children and the vulnerable by the number of arrests and prosecutions, the issue is much more complex. Everyone, teachers, GPs, parents and other adults have a responsibility to spot the signs of abuse and act.”