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PCC's response to the Serious Case Review

Following today’s serious case review, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld said:

“This is one of the most unpleasant and difficult cases Thames Valley Police have ever had to conduct and the abuse the victims were subjected to was horrific.

“What is clear from the Serious Case Review (SCR) is that all organisations involved, including the police, made mistakes and failed these vulnerable young girls.

“Although I am pleased that Thames Valley Police, working with partners, has brought to justice the perpetrators, I am extremely shocked that these children were subjected to such atrocious sexual exploitation for so long and I will not be an apologist for anyone or any organisation.  I am obviously disappointed that mistakes were made by the Police and that they didn’t successfully investigate or disrupt these crimes at an earlier stage, or safeguard the children involved.

“Unfortunately these same failures have been seen across the country.  Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has not been understood or properly recognised until recently, following a number of high profile cases.

“The Bullfinch SCR also highlights a concerning emerging national pattern where a large proportion of group-based CSE perpetrators are of a Pakistani and/or Muslim heritage. I fully support the Serious Case Review recommendation which calls on relevant government departments to carry out national research to investigate this trend and find out why this is the case. This research would be extremely beneficial to inform prevention strategies and I myself will be encouraging the government to carry this out.

“Safeguarding vulnerable children against the threat of abuse and CSE is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan and I have been supporting Thames Valley Police’s work in this area.

“As a result of Operation Bullfinch, there has been extensive work across the ThamesValley to identify potential offenders and their victims, and to make sure officers and staff are trained to spot the warning signs of CSE.  A Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub has also been set up in Oxfordshire so that Thames Valley Police can work with partners to identify risks to vulnerable children, from all communities, at the earliest possible stage.

“It is also crucial that all victims of crime, including victims of CSE, get the support they need to help them cope and recover from their experiences. In October 2014, Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCCs) took responsibility for commissioning new support services for victims of crime in their force area, and I am committed to putting services in place that help victims of these crimes. I am in the process of commissioning a number of Thames Valley wide support services for victims, including a service for young victims of crime and their parents and a service for victims of sexual violence who are aged 16 or over.

“As the SCR acknowledges, Oxfordshire has responded comprehensively to the challenge and is held as an exemplar of how CSE should be tackled.”