Closed petition Release the Home Office's Grooming Gang Review in full
The Government is refusing to release official research on the characteristics of grooming gangs, claiming it is not in the “public interest”.
We, the British public, demand the release of the official research on grooming gangs undertaken by the Government in full.
It has been revealed earlier this year that an almost 19,000 suspected child sexual exploitation victims were identified by local authorities in just one year.
Sajid Javid promised the review as Home Secretary in July 2018, pledging that there would be “no no-go areas of inquiry”.
“I will not let cultural or political sensitivities get in the way of understanding the problem and doing something about it,” he said at the time.
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This response was given on 19 May 2020
Government intends to publish a paper on group-based child sexual exploitation this year, which will set out key findings of the Home Office’s work in this area and implications for policy.
Read the response in full
Child sexual exploitation perpetrated by groups is a truly horrendous crime that shatters the lives of victims and their families. We have heard of truly shocking cases of vulnerable children being preyed upon by ruthless predators and failed by the state and those whose job it was to protect them.
These unthinkable crimes have had devastating impacts on towns and communities – leaving lasting scars that go beyond the direct victims, particularly where it has gone on for years.
This must never be allowed to happen again. This Government has made it our mission to protect the most vulnerable in our society, stamp out all forms of child sexual abuse offending, and support victims and survivors to rebuild their lives.
The Government will publish a paper into group-based child sexual exploitation in order to better understand the characteristics of group-based offending and help deliver justice for victims.
The paper, to be published later this year, will outline the insights gained from this work and focus on how agencies can learn lessons from the past to tackle group-based offending and safeguard vulnerable children.
The Home Office will set up an External Reference Group of experts to review the research before its publication.
The work was commissioned by the previous Home Secretary to better understand the scale and nature of group-based child sexual exploitation, including the characteristics of offenders, victims and the context in which these crimes are committed.
Last September, the Government announced an additional £30 million to take down the worst offenders and safeguard victims.
The Home Office will shortly publish the first of its kind cross-government Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to improve the UK’s response to tackling this abhorrent crime.
It will set out how we will work across all agencies – including government, law enforcement, safeguarding and industry – to stop offenders in their tracks, and to help victims and survivors rebuild their lives.
This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300239)
Other parliamentary business
Petitions debate on Grooming gangs postponed due to closure of Westminster Hall
On Wednesday 13 January 2021 the House of Commons agreed to suspend sittings in Westminster Hall, where petitions debates take place, as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. This means that petitions debates that were due to take place in the coming weeks are unable to go ahead, and have been postponed.
The Petitions Committee will be considering petitions that are currently awaiting debate, including this petition, and we will let you know as soon as a debate on this petition has been rescheduled, or the Committee decides to pursue this petition in another way.
Responding to the closure of Westminster Hall, Petitions Committee Chair Catherine McKinnell MP said:
“On behalf of the millions of people waiting to have their petitions debated, I am disappointed that the Government hasn’t made it possible for debates to continue virtually while Westminster Hall has to close.
“The Petitions Committee will continue to take action on petitions, including taking evidence, speaking to petitioners and holding our own virtual sessions, but I hope that in the coming weeks the Government will bring forward plans to make sure that petition debates can restart as soon as possible, and including as many MPs as possible.”
We will confirm plans for these debates with petitioners by email, and you can also get real-time updates on the Committee's work by following them on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/hocpetitions.
Paper on group-based child sexual exploitation published and debate scheduled
On Tuesday 15 December the Home Secretary published a paper on the characteristics of group-based child sexual exploitation offending.
The Petitions Committee have also scheduled a debate on this petition, on Monday 18 January 2021 at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall. Tom Hunt MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate. The Home Office will send a Minister to respond.
The paper published this week sets out the limited available evidence on the characteristics of offenders including how they operate, ethnicity, age, offender networks, as well as the context in which these crimes are often committed, along with implications for frontline responses and for policy development.
You can read the Government’s announcement and the full paper here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/priti-patel-publishes-paper-on-group-based-child-sexual-exploitation
You can watch the debate here: https://parliamentlive.tv/Commons
The transcript will be available the following day here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons
Follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter for further updates on its work: https://www.twitter.com/HoCPetitions
Original Government response
Tackling child sexual abuse is this Government’s priority. Any insights gained from our internal work will inform our future action to end this devastating abuse, including the forthcoming Strategy.
Child sexual abuse is a truly horrendous crime that shatters the lives of victims and their families. This Government has made it our mission to protect the most vulnerable in our society, and we will continue to work tirelessly at every level to protect children, support victims and stamp out offending.
Our approach is simple: we will do everything in our power to help those at risk and to leave offenders with no place to hide.
First, we have improved support for those who have suffered this appalling crime. We have increased funding for specialist local services for victims of sexual violence from £8 million to £12 million a year. Those affected have our unequivocal support, so we have also doubled our Support for Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse fund to £1.2 million, to help charities do more to help people across the country.
Second, the vile offenders preying on our children must face justice. The Home Office continues to support and drive improvements in the police response to child sexual abuse. We have prioritised this horrific crime as a national threat to ensure offenders face the full force of the law and provided significant Police Transformation Fund investment to improve the police response. Group offending must be eradicated, and we continue to provide Special Grant funding to forces carrying out major child sexual exploitation investigations.
Last September, we announced an additional £30 million to strengthen our mission to take down the worst offenders and safeguard and support victims. We continue to look for ways to do more and are developing a cross-government Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to ensure the whole system works for victims. The Strategy will set out how we will work across all sectors - including government, law enforcement, safeguarding and industry - to stop offenders in their tracks, and to help victims and survivors rebuild their lives.
Group-based child sexual exploitation is a particularly repugnant form of abuse that has a devasting impact on villages, towns and communities, particularly where it has gone on for years. These unthinkable crimes tear neighbourhoods apart and leave lasting scars that go beyond the direct victims. Extremists may also seek to exploit legitimate concerns to sow further division. The Government will continue to challenge these views and to help communities unite.
Child sexual abusers come from all walks of life, and from many different age groups, communities, ethnicities and faiths. Abuse is abuse, and misplaced sensitivities must never be allowed to put any child at risk. We are clear that police forces must continue to fully investigate these heinous crimes whenever and wherever they occur, and to ensure that anyone found responsible is prosecuted.
To help end this terrible form of abuse, the Home Office has been investigating the characteristics of group-based child sexual exploitation. It is right, proper and routine for the Government to carry out internal fact-finding work as part of policy development, as we do across a range of crime threats. Any insights gained from this important internal work will be used to inform our future action to end this devastating abuse, including the forthcoming Strategy.
Our research will help us better understand offending, to help prevent these vile crimes. Key findings will inform our own work, action at a local level, and law enforcement action to catch those responsible for this horrific abuse.
As part of our work, we have completed a review of existing literature. We have spoken to investigators and safeguarding professionals to better explore the challenges in investigating these crimes and their understanding of the offenders and victims of group-based child sexual exploitation.
The Government appreciates public interest in this matter and shares the nation’s outrage and determination to end this atrocious form of abuse. Mistakes have undoubtedly been made in the past and must never be allowed to happen again.
We will continue to work relentlessly to understand and end all forms of child sexual abuse. The most vulnerable in our society deserve our protection and we will work tirelessly to keep them safe and to bring their tormentors to justice.
This response was given on 24 April 2020. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.
Home Secretary provides revised response
The Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) has published the Home Secretary’s response to the its request for a revised response.
The Home Secretary’s response now states that that the Government will publish a paper on group-based child sexual exploitation later this year, which will set out their findings and set the direction for future policy and research. The letter from the Home Secretary is available here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/1193/documents/10184/default/