Commissioner joins national coalition calling for action on child sexual abuse8 August, 2016
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, has joined forces with other PCCs across the country urging the Government to keep its focus on tackling child sexual abuse.
Following the resignation of Justice Lowell Goddard as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which PCCs warned risks derailing the work of the Inquiry, he called on the Government to “step up” and take decisive action to keep young people safe from harm.
Backed by Mr Grunshaw, the Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), Vera Baird QC, has written to the Home Secretary urging a swift response so that the work of the Inquiry is not put at risk.
She said: “PCCs are rightly concerned about the potential impact that Justice Goddard’s resignation might have on the essential work of the Inquiry. Tackling child sexual abuse and supporting the victims and survivors are priorities for PCCS and I have been working closely with PCC colleagues, such as Clive Grunshaw, PCC for Lancashire, not only to ensure that this vital work continues unaffected, but to ensure that Government looks to work more closely with PCCs going forward, given our responsibilities at a local level not just for policing but for victims too.”
The APCC is calling on the Government to work more closely with PCCs, who are responsible for policing and services for victims of crime, on tackling sexual abuse and exploitation of children following new data that shows one in 14 adults report being sexually abused as a child.
Mr Grunshaw said: “We have seen increased reporting of sexual assaults committed against young people here in Lancashire and while it is encouraging that people have the knowledge and confidence to report when something feels wrong, it is starting to show the extent of what has been a ‘hidden crime’ for far too long.
“While I welcome the Home Secretary’s commitment to continue the important work of the IICSA, victims and survivors will want to see fast and decisive action to appoint a new Chair so that everyone can have full confidence in its work. Sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a matter for our society as a whole, not just the police. The Government must now step up with actions, not just words, and back public services that work to protect children, keeping them safe.”
The APCC’s letter welcomed the Home Secretary’s statement that the Inquiry remains a priority for the Government and the reassurance that Operation Hydrant, the police operation to support the Inquiry, will continue as normal. PCCs urged the swift appointment of a new Chair to the Inquiry and greater engagement from Government in tackling CSA and CSE given that PCCs have responsibilities for policing investigations as well as support services for victims
Dame Lowell Goddard resigned as Chair of the IICSA on August 4, the same day ONS data was released showing that one in 14 adults – 11% of women and 3% of men – report being sexually abused as a child.
National police recorded crime figures released in July show a 21% increase in reports of sexual offences and Lancashire figures were 33% higher than the previous year. There were 2,656 sexual offences recorded in Lancashire and 106,378 across England and Wales between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016.