To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many UK police forces have a dedicated unit dealing with the prosecution and identification of (a) sexual offences against children and (b) other online offences; and which UK police forces also hold specialist expertise in child protection and safeguarding.
Tackling child sexual abuse including online child sexual exploitation is a top priority for this Government. We have prioritised child sexual abuse as a national threat in the Strategic Policing Requirement, setting a clear expectation on police forces to safeguard children, collaborate across force boundaries, share intelligence and share best practice.
The College of Policing and the National Policing lead have set the requirement on all forces to train all new and existing police staff including police officers, detectives and specialist investigators to respond to child sexual abuse.
We are committed to supporting the police to tackle these horrendous crimes. We have made £1.7 million available to fund Operation Hydrant, which co-ordinates the handling of multiple non-recent child sexual abuse investigations specifically concerning institutions or persons of public prominence, and up to £1.5 million to support a new network of regional co-ordinators and analysts to oversee the implementation of the National Policing Plan for tackling child sexual exploitation.
The Government will also continue to invest in law enforcement capabilities at the national, regional and local levels to ensure they have the capacity to deal with the increasing volume and sophistication of cyber-dependant crime and cyber-enabled fraud, including support for the Regional Organised Crime Units, who have a dedicated Cyber Crime Unit each. As the Chancellor also announced last week, spending on the UK’s cyber security programmes will be almost doubled over the next five years, with £1.9 billion funding.