Care Appointments
March 15, 2016

Direct Government intervention with South Yorkshire Police is needed to improve the force's performance when dealing with the sexual abuse of children, the Lords heard.

Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven expressed concern at the way exploitation cases had been treated in the police area during Lords question time.

"Will the Minister seriously consider direct intervention by the Government in South Yorkshire Police's performance in dealing with child sexual exploitation?

"This has been highlighted by the recent report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, which said that South Yorkshire Police still needs to make major improvements.

"Following freedom of information requests to ten forces across the country, a BBC report on Friday showed that, nationally, one in five cases reported are charged, but that in South Yorkshire the figure is one in 16," Lord Scriven said.

Home Office Minister Lord Bates said the Government was monitoring the situation.

"They are very serious claims. The HMIC report at least pointed to some improvement. We have Professor John Drew looking independently into this and will carefully follow his responses. It is very important to have the confidence of the public in that particular area, which has been at the centre of so many cases, so we will be watching very carefully indeed," the Minister said.

Conservative peer Lord Lexden raised concerns about the Church of England.

"Is it not essential that all agencies involved in protecting children investigate allegations of sexual abuse fully, fairly and openly? Will my noble friend agree that the more stringent procedures now required of bodies such as our school inspectorates and the Church of England authorities represent real progress?

"However, are we yet in a position to place total confidence in the church authorities? They failed to give an adequate account of the process which led them to accept last October the veracity of a single uncorroborated complaint of child sexual abuse made against one of our greatest, most venerated bishops, George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958. He was a man held in the highest regard in this House during his 20 years of service to it and the nation," Lord Lexden said.

Lord Bates replied: "On the first point, we have encouraged - in fact, published and put on a statutory footing - legal requirements to work together to safeguard children in order to restore public confidence in these very serious areas. That is also why Justice (Lowell) Goddard is undertaking her inquiry. The last issue which the noble Lord raised is pertinent in the sense that Justice Goddard identified that claims of abuse within the Anglican Church were a line for her to investigate in her inquiry. The inquiry will cover that topic when it meets this week, on Wednesday, and of course that inquiry will be held in public."


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