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Child sexual exploitation by organised networks

An inquiry into institutional responses to the sexual exploitation of children by organised networks.

The systematic grooming and sexual abuse of children by groups of offenders in cities and towns of England and Wales is widespread. 

To decide how best to investigate this issue the Inquiry reviewed a large number of previously published reviews, inquiries and reports on child sexual exploitation and several large-scale prosecutions. The Inquiry chose a sample of 13 local authority areas and institutions in those areas were asked to provide information and complete questionnaires. The Inquiry then considered the large volume of material that was provided in response. 

Having conducted that scoping exercise the Inquiry identified eight themes on which it heard evidence. Further information about the themes can be found here, but in summary, they are: 

  1. Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Problem Profiling (including gender and ethnicity) and disruption of offenders
  2. Empathy and concern for child victims
  3. Risk assessment and protection from harm
  4. Missing children, return home interviews and looked after children
  5. Male victims
  6. Children with a disability
  7. Partnership working on child sexual exploitation
  8. Audit, review and performance improvement

The Inquiry focused on the following six geographic areas: St Helens, Tower Hamlets, Swansea, Durham, Bristol and Warwickshire. It obtained evidence from a range of institutions but it placed significant focus on the response of police forces and local authorities to the selected themes.  

Next Steps:

The public hearing into this investigation concluded in October 2020. An investigation report will be published in autumn 2021.

The Inquiry is encouraging all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse to share their experience with the Truth Project.

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