Laura Sharman 23 February 2018

Council praised for not sweeping sexual exploitation 'under the carpet'

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Newcastle City Council has been praised for the way it supported and protected the victims of sexual exploitation in a new report.

A joint serious case review found the council and its partners were 'swift, determined and committed' as soon as the scale of the problem was uncovered. Perpetrators were arrested and have received lengthy prison sentences.

The report also found there was no fear of appearing racist and political correctness when investigating the crimes.

Author of the report, barrister David Spicer, said: 'Unlike some other areas, Newcastle agencies did not try and sweep this under the carpet but actively went looking for it and as a result a large number of perpetrators were arrested and prosecuted, and victims saved from further trauma. That is not say that lessons have not been learned.

'Before 2014 perpetrators were not consistently investigated, disrupted and prosecuted. Professionals felt there was little chance of securing convictions for various reasons - a lack of co-operation by victims because of control by perpetrators, victims being undermined in court and a history of a cautious approach by the Crown Prosecution Service in bringing charges.

'However, once the true extent of the problem became apparent, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the city council and partners across the city put in place a range of measures to disrupt, arrest and imprison offenders while supporting victims regardless of whether they were able to give evidence in court or not.'

Chief executive of Newcastle City Council, Pat Ritchie, said: 'I would like to reassure everyone that the council is working very closely with both the adult and children’s safeguarding boards to ensure all of the recommendations are progressed and implemented in a timely manner.

'Sexual exploitation is happening in towns and cities across the country but what we have learned can be used to help others.'

Speaking to The MJ, Mr Spicer said that while abuse of vulnerable adults had not been uncovered elsewhere it was ‘likely to be one of the onion skins coming off’.

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