Grooming gangs taskforce promised to stop exploitation of children and young women


A new grooming gangs taskforce will be launched to stop the exploitation of children and young women, the government has announced.

Specialist officers will help police forces with child sexual exploitation and abuse investigations “to bring more of these despicable criminals to justice”, Downing Street said.

The new taskforce will be made up of officers with “extensive experience” of grooming gangs investigations to provide “crucial support” to police forces across England.

Downing Street said better data on the make-up of the gangs, including ethnicity, will be part of the support “to make sure suspects cannot hide behind cultural sensitivities to evade justice”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will launch the taskforce on Monday at events in Leeds and Greater Manchester where he will meet survivors, local police partners and members of the new unit.

He said: “The safety of women and girls is paramount.

“For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women.

“We will stop at nothing to stamp out these dangerous gangs.”

Mr Sunak has also pledged to make sure grooming gang members and their ringleaders receive the toughest possible sentences.

The government will introduce legislation to make being the leader of, or involved in, a grooming gang a statutory aggravating factor during sentencing, which would allow judges to hand down tougher punishments.

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Home secretary says gangs ‘robbed thousands’ of a childhood

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New legal duty to report suspicions of sexual abuse

On Sunday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman announced people working with children in England will have a new legal duty to report knowledge or suspicions of child sex abuse.

But before that happens, she will hold a consultation to gather evidence from professionals, volunteers, parents, survivors and the wider public to ensure everyone’s views are represented.

It comes after the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse last year described sexual abuse of children as an “epidemic that leaves tens of thousands of victims in its poisonous wake”.

The seven-year inquiry into institutional failings in England and Wales concluded that people in positions of trust should be compelled by law to report child sexual abuse.

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Gangs victim: ‘Nobody would have believed me’

Ms Braverman singled out gangs of British Pakistani men as she accused authorities of turning a “blind eye” to signs of abuse over fears of being labelled “racist” or “bigoted”.

She told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “What’s clear is that what we’ve seen is a practice whereby vulnerable white English girls, sometimes in care, sometimes who are in challenging circumstances, being pursued and raped and drugged and harmed by gangs of British Pakistani men who’ve worked in child abuse rings or networks.

“It’s now down to the authorities to track these perpetrators down without fear or favour relentlessly and bring them to justice.”

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said the consultation was a “step in the right direction”, but called on ministers to do more to tackle child sexual abuse.

Sir Peter Wanless, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We urgently need a step change in understanding who is at risk of sexual abuse and an overhaul of support for those already suffering its consequences.”

While Labour said it had long called for mandatory reporting, labelling the government’s plans “hopelessly inadequate”.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Ministers have known about the role of organised gangs in child exploitation for years – yet when Labour called for mandatory reporting and expanded police specialist teams nearly a decade ago, they failed to act and have dragged their heels ever since.”

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