Over 1400 suspects investigated for child sexual abuse by people of public prominence, or within institutions

National Police Chiefs' Council
May 20, 2015

This is set against the backdrop of indicative figures showing that police caseload for reports of child sexual abuse has increased 71 per cent in the last three years

In the summer of 2014, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Child Abuse Investigation, Chief Constable Simon Bailey established a coordination hub, Operation Hydrant, to oversee the investigation of allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse within institutions or by people of public prominence.

Police forces are currently notifying Operation Hydrant of all active cases fitting this criteria. Hydrant staff are then identifying links between investigations and preventing duplication between forces. They do not have any control over the investigations themselves.

Since the establishment of the Goddard Panel Enquiry, officers and staff from Operation Hydrant have also been working closely with the Panel Secretariat acting as the interface with the police service. Working relationships are well established and there is a constant flow of information between the secretariat and Hydrant staff.

To date Operation Hydrant has received reports of:

1433 suspects of which 216 are deceased

666 suspects related to institutions

261 classified as people of public prominence

506 are classified as unidentified

357 institutions have been identified within the scope of the operation.

CC Bailey said: “Operation Hydrant has been established to help senior investigating officers across the country to work together to ensure that these complex investigations are successfully managed and that best practice is identified and shared with frontline staff."

The NPCC Child Protection and Abuse Investigations Working Group has examined figures from 12 police forces within England and Wales looking at their caseload of child sexual abuse incidents from 2012 to the first quarter of 2015. These have been extrapolated across all 43 forces and projected to the end of 2015.

They show a rise in incidents from 66,120 in 2012 to a projected 113,291 cases in 2015, which is a potential 71 per cent increase in the overall number of cases reported to police over the last three years. Recent cases have risen by 31 per cent and non-recent cases have risen by 165 per cent.

CC Simon Bailey said: “These figures are stark. They indicate the scale of child abuse police are dealing with.

“Much public and media focus has been on horrors committed by well-known personalities, groups, gangs or in institutions, but the vast majority of victims are abused by family members or friends.

“Police have done a huge amount to meet the challenge: we have responded to criticism, changed how we engage with victims and how we investigate abuse. Many victims have now found confidence to report abuse, knowing we will treat them sensitively, respectfully, listen to them and take reports of their abuse seriously. I would encourage all victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report their abuse.

“We face a massive challenge, in terms of resources, time and expertise, to balance offering routes to justice for those who suffered in the past while safeguarding and protecting children in a vulnerable position now.

“We cannot measure protecting children and the vulnerable by the number of arrests and prosecutions, the issue is much more complex. Everyone, teachers, GPs, parents and other adults have a responsibility to spot the signs of abuse and act.”

Notes to Editor:

1. Hydrant figures Breakdown of Hydrant figures as follows:

The total number of nominals (individually identified alleged offenders) on the system is 1433, of which 216 are deceased.

Of these, 666 are alleged offenders in institutions.

506 are classified as unknown or unidentified

261 are classified as persons of public prominence.

Of these, 135 come from the world of TV, film or radio

76 are listed as politicians – it should be noted that these include local-level politicians, not just national figures

43 are from the music industry

7 are from the world of sport

357 different institutions have been identified on our system. These include:

154 schools

75 children’s homes

40 religious institutions

14 medical establishments

11 are classified as being institutions in communities – youth clubs, community centres etc.

9 Prisons or Young Offenders Institutions

9 sports venues

28 other institutions (i.e. military, guest houses) In addition, 17 institutions are classified as ‘unknown’.

No force-by-force breakdown of Hydrant figures will be made available and no names of suspects on the Hydrant system will be released.

2. Force-level figures

Force-level figures collated by the NPCC Child Protection and Abuse Investigations Working Group are a mathematical extrapolation across 43 forces using, as a base, child sexual abuse caseload figures from 12 forces from 2012 up to the first quarter of 2015.

The figures have also utilised a projection to make an informed estimate for figures up to the end of 2015. They should not be treated as anything other than an informed extrapolation.

The headline figures are as follows:

Total cases: 66,120 in 2012; 113,291 in 2015, showing a rise of 71%

Recent cases: 46,311 in 2012; 60,845 in 2015, showing a rise of 31%

Non-recent cases: 19,809 in 2012, 52,446 in 2015, showing a rise of 165%

The forces which contributed figures to the projection and extrapolation of total child sexual abuse figures have been anonymised.

3. Sheila Taylor MBE, CEO of the National Working Group Network, said:

“This investigation is massive and a testimony to how the attitude to victims is changing, how those who have been victims have previously felt unable to come forward or have done so but not been believed, but now have confidence that they will be believed and listened too.

“We have come a long way in understanding the complexities of sexual abuse and exploitation, I, personally, have witnessed an incredible sea change in attitude and willingness to tackle the issues since Operation Retriever in 2011.

“We need to be careful that resources invested in historic cases do not reduce the ability to proactively investigate areas that raise concerns with professionals now. We know that victims are so manipulated they do not see themselves as abused at the time and that involves professionals from all disciplines being very vigilant to the signs and symptoms of abuse, both familial and exploitative and be able to investigate proactively not reactively.

“It is important to remember that if we wait for an allegation of rape we then have a damaged person; we need to intervene at the earliest opportunity.

“Alongside this investigation into serious allegations we need to ensure we are doing all the awareness and preventative work we can do in order to reduce the number of victims we are seeing, education into schools and youth provision is important, resources that assist young people to identify; become resilient to approaches and information for parents are essential too.”



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