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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual exploitation by organised networks Investigation Report

Contents

H.8: Improving profiling in the future

26. The inadequacy of profiles, as described above, reflects a problem throughout England and Wales.

27. HMICFRS noted that other forces either do not have problem profiles at all or they are poorly populated and not updated.[1]

28. This is also emblematic of wider concerns about the recording of child sexual exploitation by police forces: a recent investigative report by The Times identified that:

  • at Dyfed-Powys Police, 9 of 10 crimes categorised as child sexual exploitation were misrecorded, according to a 2018 report;
  • Lancashire Police’s 15-year-old IT system was described in an internal 2018 report as “not fit for the changing nature of child exploitation”;
  • around half of the child exploitation cases in one year had not been flagged correctly by Hertfordshire Police, according to an internal 2019 report; and
  • in 2021 West Yorkshire Police admitted that an intelligence database including information on perpetrators could not be easily searched by officers.[2]

29. These data issues may be part of the reason why the government still does not provide an annual child sexual exploitation overview or profile, as recommended by the Children’s Commissioner in 2013.[3]

30. In 2016, following Time to Listen joint thematic inspection (which looked at responses to child sexual exploitation and missing children), the Care Quality Commission recommended the appointment of a dedicated professional in each area who has access to all the information held by different agencies to ensure that children at heightened risk and the profile of offenders is understood and managed.[4] This recommendation has been acted upon by some clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local safeguarding children partnerships (LSCPs) but not consistently.[5]

31. The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s ongoing Tackling Organised Exploitation project intends, in the long term, to establish permanent national exploitation hubs to harvest and assess intelligence data, and analyse and understand patterns of offending.[6] It remains to be seen whether this helps to resolve the issues identified. We note that local police forces which are performing well with profiling are those with dedicated analysts who are continually updating databases.[7]

32. The Home Office’s December 2020 paper said that:

a commitment to improve the collection and analysis of data on group-based child sexual exploitation, including in relation to characteristics of offenders such as ethnicity and other factors, will be included in the forthcoming Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy In the future, further research could be commissioned to triangulate between police data, court records and other data sources to provide a more reliable picture of the characteristics of offenders.[8]

33. In its 2021 Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, the government committed to several measures with relevance to problem profiling, including:

  • Enhancing the Child Exploitation Disruption Toolkit to provide strategic guidance to local agencies in profiling, preventing and disrupting this form of offending”;
  • Engaging with criminal justice partners, academics, think tanks, charities and frontline professionals on improving the range, quality and analysis of data collected on offender and victim characteristics to help protect children by preventing and detecting offending”; and
  • Investing in regional analysts to continue to develop a quarterly data collection on the totality of the child sexual abuse cases undertaken by police forces, as well as refreshing the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Operations Database” which will “capture details of victims and offender numbers, characteristics and modus operandi”.[9]

References

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