The Government is clear that if anyone has been a victim of child sexual abuse, or knows of someone who has been a victim, then they should report it to the police so that it can be thoroughly investigated. The day to day investigation of child sexual abuse is an operational matter for the relevant Chief Officer.
In July last year, the Home Secretary established an Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. This Inquiry will consider whether, and the extent to which, public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The Inquiry will have statutory powers under the Inquiries Act 2005, to enable it to compel witnesses to give evidence. This is of huge national significance and is a once in a generation opportunity to get to the truth.
At a national level, Operation Hydrant is the national policing response which oversees and coordinates all child abuse investigations concerning persons of public prominence or those offences which took place historically in institutional settings. It is overseen by the National Policing Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigations. More generally, Operation Hydrant is responsible for the production of best practice for Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs) investigating relevant allegations.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is currently conducting a rolling programme of unannounced child protection inspections. Reports on Norfolk, South Yorkshire, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire have been published so far. This inspection programme, once completed, will give a national picture, and focus on the role of police in child protection and specifically how effectively forces safeguard young people.