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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 intends to hear evidence at the public hearing that begins on 20 April 2020. 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 will focus on the following six geographic areas: St Helens, Tower Hamlets, Swansea, Durham, Bristol and Warwickshire. It is obtaining evidence from a range of institutions but it intends to place significant focus on the response of police forces and local authorities to the selected themes.  

Next Steps:

A public hearing in this investigation will take place on 21 September - 2 October 2020. The initial public hearing scheduled for April 2020 was postponed due to Covid-19. 

Preliminary hearings were held on 2 May 2019 and 15 January 2020.

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

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