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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Internet Investigation Report

B.2: Victims and survivors

Research

8. Research commissioned by the Inquiry concludes that girls are more likely to be victims of reported online-facilitated child sexual abuse.[1] The research also suggests that the 11 to 14 years age group may be most vulnerable to online-facilitated child sexual abuse.[2]

9. These findings are supported by other evidence.

9.1. In May 2018, research published by the IWF found that the majority of images and videos of live-streamed child sexual abuse analysed by the IWF depicted children assessed as being between 11 and 13 years old.[3] In 2019 (January to April), 81 percent of self-generated content on which the IWF took action was of children aged 11 to 13, predominantly girls.[4] Ms Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF, told us:

we are extremely worried about girls, young girls, 11 to 13, in their bedroom with a camera-enabled device and an internet connection.[5]

9.2. The Inquiry heard similar evidence from police forces. Kent Police reported that victims of online-facilitated child sexual abuse were predominantly between 11 and 15 years old and 84 percent were female.[6] Norfolk Constabulary reported that 81 percent of victims were between 12 and 15 years old and (excluding victims of indecent image offences) 89 percent were female.[7] West Midlands Police agreed that those aged 13 to 15 years were by far the largest group of victims.[8]

10. Research also shows that adverse childhood experiences, such as physical or sexual abuse and exposure to parental conflict, make children more vulnerable to abuse online.[9] Above-average internet use increases vulnerability when this interacts with other characteristics such as having a disability or low self-esteem.[10]

The experience of victims and survivors

11. The Inquiry heard from IN-A3. When she was approximately 15 years old, IN-A3 worked part-time at a local bed & breakfast. Over time, the owner, Laurence Glynn (a man in his 60s), started to groom her and one of the other girls who worked there. He made inappropriate comments about her figure, bought her clothes and took her out to dinner. He took photographs of her sitting down in positions where her underwear could be seen. He sent her inappropriate messages on Facebook and Twitter. He showed her photos of young children which IN-A3 described as “the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen in my life.[11] She told us that on one occasion Glynn sexually assaulted her. IN-A3 described the devastating effect the abuse had on her. She “went a bit off the rails”, struggled, and still struggles, to sleep, and has an “awful feeling of worrying that pictures of her may be circulating online.[12]

12. The Inquiry also heard from Ms Lorin LaFave.[13] On 17 February 2014, Ms LaFave’s 14-year-old son, Breck, was brutally murdered by Lewis Daynes, then aged 18. In 2013, Breck had met Daynes in an online gaming community set up by Daynes. Daynes began to manipulate Breck and sought to distance Breck from his family. Ms LaFave tried to protect her son and in December 2013 she called Surrey Police and reported that she thought her son was being groomed for sex by an older man. She expected that the police would check any police records on Daynes but in fact nothing was done and the call log was closed. A subsequent Independent Police Complaints Commission[14] (IPCC) report concluded that, based on the information provided by Ms LaFave, the call handler should have “taken more action” and sought guidance on how to deal with callers expressing concerns about grooming.[15] Had the call handler checked Daynes’ police national computer record, it would have revealed that when Daynes was 15 he had been accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. This information should have prompted the police to investigate Ms LaFave’s concerns.

13. On 16 February 2014, unbeknown to his parents, Breck visited Daynes. The next day, Daynes stabbed Breck to death. Daynes then destroyed his telephones and computer equipment by submerging the devices in a sink filled with water. The police found paraphernalia suggesting that the murder had been sexually motivated. Ms LaFave described that when she was told that Breck had been murdered she “fell to the floor and could not stop screaming, this was what I tried so hard to prevent”.[16] In January 2015, Daynes was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years.

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