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Children Facing Police 'Postcode Lottery' After Sexual Abuse

Child Sexual Abuse Victims Fear Police Will Not Believe Allegations


The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) has warned that children who have suffered sexual abuse face a “postcode lottery” when it comes to the way they are treated by police officers.

The group found that many victims of sexual offences come to the attention of police after being suspected of a crime, which often means their status as a victim of abuse goes unnoticed.

A report published by the group revealed children who have suffered sexual abuse of been trafficked often commit crimes to survive, which brings them to the attention of police officers as offenders, rather than victims.

The report stated: "Unfortunately, the inquiry heard that the police response to CSE (child sexual exploitation) and trafficking victims was a 'postcode lottery', leading to very different experiences and outcomes for children nationally."

According to the APPGC, a lack of trust between the police and young people has developed as child sexual abuse victims face being questioned repeatedly about the same information, which leads to concerns that they may not be believed.

Conservative MP Tim Loughton, one of the vice-chairs of APPGC, said: "That must be in everyone's interest and whilst we found some examples of good practice, clearly more needs to be done to make good practice common place across the country. Our children and young people deserve nothing less."

Following the publication of the report, the APPGC recommended that every police force should have a designated senior officer of Association of Chief Police Officer (Acpo) responsible for procedures and practice with children and young people.

Expert Opinion
In cases where involving the sexual abuse of children, it is vital the top priority is the victim and providing them with the help and support they need to overcome both the physical and psychological impact abuse can have.

“Therefore it is extremely worrying to hear that the help and support victims receive from the police varies from place to place. It is crucial that officers are educated of the signs of sexual abuse in children and feel confident to act on allegations made by them.

“We also welcome the recommendations of the APPGC to create roles for senior officers to ensure the procedures and practices designed to protect young people are up-to-date and offer victims the help and support they need.”
Tracey Storey, Partner

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