A report examined young people's understanding of sexual consent. It said their understanding was characterized by confused thinking, particularly around what constituted rape and the culpability of victims. There were clear differences in attitudes and approaches between and towards the genders. It said that young people needed better information about sex and relationships, co-ordinated within the educational setting.
Source: Maddy Coy, Liz Kelly, Fiona Elvines, Maria Garner, and Ava Kanyeredzi, ï¿½Sex Without Consent, I Suppose that is Rapeï¿½: How young people in England understand sexual consent, Office of the Children's Commissioner
The children's watchdog for England said that there was evidence to demonstrate that children were victims of sexual predation in gangs and groups. It said that, although it had found pockets of good practice, there were serious gaps in the knowledge, practice and services required to protect children.
Source: ï¿½If Only Someone had Listenedï¿½: Office of the Childrenï¿½s Commissionerï¿½s inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups – final report, Office of the Children's Commissioner
A survey examined awareness of issues surrounding child sexual exploitation and the roles of parents, schools and other professionals in keeping children safe. The report noted that mobile phones, rather than computers, were a primary tool used in exploitation attempts. It said that parents had a key role in safeguarding their children, and should be enabled to be more involved.
Source: Are Parents in the Picture? Professional and parental perspectives of child sexual exploitation, YouGov
A report examined sexual violence towards, and exploitation of, young people in gang-associated areas in England. It said that there were significant levels of such harm occurring, with young women at particular risk. Victims were often held culpable for the harm they experienced, and attacks were not being reported or adequately identified. The report made recommendations.
Source: Helen Beckett, Isabelle Brodie, Fiona Factor, Margaret Melrose, Jenny Pearce, John Pitts, Lucie Shuker, and Camille Warrington, ï¿½ Itï¿½s wrong... but you get used to itï¿½: A qualitative study of gang-associated sexual violence towards, and exploitation of, young people in England, Office of the Children's Commissioner
A government report provided an assessment of human trafficking in the United Kingdom.
Source: Second Report of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking, Cm 8731, Home Office, TSO
A report examined human trafficking in London.
Source: Andrew Boff, Shadow City: Exposing human trafficking in everyday London, Greater London Authority Conservatives
The Crown Prosecution Service issued guidelines on the prosecution of cases of child sexual abuse. Alongside this, the CPS also issued a joint protocol, drawn up with a range of connected agencies, on the sharing of information.
Source: Guidelines on Prosecuting Cases of Child Sexual Abuse, Crown Prosecution Service
A report examined how sexual violence and abuse was addressed by the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. The report said that, since a previous inspection three years ago, the importance of sexual violence and abuse and awareness of the issue had increased. Seven of the original inspection recommendations were assessed as achieved; three had been partially achieved; and two were not achieved.
Source: Sexual Violence and Abuse: A follow-up review of inspection recommendations, Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland
A new book examined issues related to young people who are affected by child sexual exploitation and child trafficking for exploitation.
Source: Margaret Melrose and Jenny Pearce (eds), Critical Perspectives on Child Sexual Exploitation and Related Trafficking, Palgrave Macmillan
The government responded to a report by a committee of MPs on child sexual exploitation.
Source: Child Sexual Exploitation and the Response to Localised Grooming: The Government Response to the Second Report from the Home Affairs Committee, Cm 8705, Home Office, TSO
Notes: MPs report (June 2013)
A new book examined the nature, extent, and visibility of prostitution in residential communities and business areas. It considered the legal and social context in which it was situated, and the community responses of those who lived and worked in areas of sex work.
Source: Sarah Kingston, Prostitution in the Community: Attitudes, action and resistance, Routledge
A report said that Asian girls were failing to report sexual abuse to the police and other authorities because they feared not being believed, or because they were threatened with bringing shame and dishonour on their families. Agencies were also too focused on a model of grooming involving white victims.
Source: Shaista Gohir, Unheard Voices: The sexual exploitation of Asian girls and young women, Muslim Women's Network UK
The Prime Minister announced that action would be taken to block access to online pornography unless customers told their internet provider that they wanted to retain it. Possessing online pornography depicting rape would become illegal in England and Wales (in line with Scotland). The Prime Minister also called for certain internet search terms related to child sexual abuse to be 'blacklisted' by search engine companies.
Source: Speech by David Cameron MP (Prime Minister), 22 July 2013
Links: Speech | Action for Children press release | Brook press release | CARE press release | Childrens Society press release | Christian Institute press release | Durham University press release | Evangelical Alliance press release | EVAW press release | Family Lives press release | IWF press release | NSPCC press release | OCC press release | Rape Crisis press release | BBC report (1) | BBC report (2) | Daily Mail report | Guardian report
A report examined the progression of individual cases relating to rape through the criminal justice system, from reporting to conviction, across three police force areas in the north-east region of England. Cases involving the most vulnerable victims were least likely to progress to any extent through the criminal justice system. For those with a mental health problem or learning disability, in particular, the justice gap was a 'chasm'. Although victim vulnerability was identified as an aggravating factor in the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, in practice vulnerability was deemed to undermine victim credibility. Use of a victim-focused approach, alongside other factors, led to the highest proportion of cases proceeding through to charges, more cases going to court, and also a higher rate of convictions.
Source: Marianne Hester, From Report to Court: Rape cases and the criminal justice system in the North East, Centre for Gender and Violence Research (University of Bristol)/Northern Rock Foundation
A report examined the experiences of children from a range of backgrounds who had run away and been victims of sexual exploitation before the age of 16. It highlighted the variety of reasons why children chose to run away, and how easily they could find themselves at risk and in danger of being sexually exploited. Running away could be the result of having been exploited for sex.
Source: Emilie Smeaton, Running from Hate to What You Think Is Love: The relationship between running away and child sexual exploitation, Barnardo's
The prosecution service inspectorate identified gaps in the handling of disclosure material involving rape and sexual offence cases. Prosecutors did not actively consider whether or not a complainant's consent had been obtained to disclose medical records and/or counselling notes to the defence; did not always consider properly whether or not there was a need for full disclosure; and could find it difficult to ascertain whether the police had properly obtained the complainant's consent to disclosure.
Source: Disclosure of Medical Records and Counselling Notes: A review of CPS compliance with rules and guidance in relation to disclosure of complainants medical records and counselling notes in rape and sexual offence cases, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
A report by a committee of MPs said that recent criminal cases had highlighted 'catastrophic multi-agency failures' over child sexual exploitation. The police, social services, and Crown Prosecution Service all needed to bear responsibility for the way in which vulnerable children had been left unprotected by the system. All local authorities needed to ensure that there was sufficient funding for prevention within the budget of any multi-agency team tasked with tackling child sexual exploitation.
Source: Child Sexual Exploitation and the Response to Localised Grooming, Second Report (Session 2013-14), HC 68, House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, TSO
Links: Report | Committee press release | Childrens Society press release | Railway Children press release | BBC report | Daily Mail report | Guardian report | Public Finance report | Telegraph report
A research study for the children's watchdog for England found that: a significant number of children accessed pornography; it influenced their attitudes towards relationships and sex; it was linked to risky behaviour such as having sex at a younger age; and there was a correlation between holding violent attitudes and accessing more violent media. The watchdog called for urgent action to develop children's resilience to pornography.
Source: Miranda Horvath, Llian Alys, Kristina Massey, Afroditi Pina, Mia Scally, and Joanna Adler, 'Basically... Porn Is Everywhere': A rapid evidence assessment on the effects that access and exposure to pornography has on children and young people, Office of the Children's Commissioner
Links: Report | OCC press release | Middlesex University press release | Canterbury Christ Church University press release | BHA press release | EVAW press release | SEF press release | Womens Aid press release | BBC report | Guardian report | Telegraph report
A new book said that the criminal justice system had little effect on crime rates; that policing had been hijacked to serve the needs of lawyers; and that 'facts' about crime were continually manipulated to serve the needs of politicians and the media. It quoted research suggesting that a high proportion of cases in which women had had sex unwillingly should not be classified as rape; and it said that some women's own behaviour increased their risk of becoming a victim of rape.
Source: Nick Ross, Crime: How to Solve It And Why So Much of What We're Told Is Wrong, Biteback Publishing
The Director of Public Prosecutions announced a package of measures designed to transform the way in which the criminal justice system tackled child sexual abuse. The measures included:
An overhaul of policy and guidance. All existing policy would be decommissioned, with one overarching and agreed approach to investigation and prosecution of sexual offences to be applicable in all police forces and agreed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS would also draft new guidance to ensure consistent best practice, which would be open to public consultation.
Training would ensure there was no gap between policy and practice. The training would provide practical advice to police and prosecutors about when a complainant could and should be told about other complaints, among other things.
The formation of a national scoping panel, which would review complaints made in the past that were not pursued by police and prosecutors, if requested.
Source: Press release 6 March 2013, Crown Prosecution Service
A think-tank report said that there was 'widespread ignorance' about the problem of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labour in the United Kingdom. It called for the appointment of an anti-slavery commissioner modelled on the children's commissioner to hold the government to account on actions to tackle the problem; and for a new Modern Slavery Act to ensure that victims did not face the threat of prosecution and were encouraged to report abuse and seek help from welfare agencies.
Source: It Happens Here: Equipping the United Kingdom to fight modern slavery, Centre for Social Justice
The police service inspectorate said that the police had failed to respond effectively to allegations of sexual abuse made against the entertainer Jimmy Savile during his lifetime. Although policies and practices designed to improve the experience of child victims were now available, there were serious concerns over why so many victims had felt unable to come forward and report what had happened to the authorities at the time.
Source: 'Mistakes Were Made': HMIC's review into allegations and intelligence material concerning Jimmy Savile between 1964 and 2012, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary
Notes: The police inspectorate asked police forces to provide all information relating to sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile recorded prior to the launch of an official police investigation in October 2012. The police had recorded just five allegations of criminal conduct and two pieces of intelligence information during Saviles lifetime, with the earliest of these records dating from 1964. In contrast, since 2012 more than 600 people had come forward with allegations against Savile.
A joint inspectorate report said that professional workers were often missing opportunities to prevent reoffending by children and young people who committed sexual offences.
Source: Examining Multi-Agency Responses to Children and Young People who Sexually Offend: A joint inspection of the effectiveness of multi-agency work with children and young people in England and Wales who have committed sexual offences and were supervised in the community, HM Chief Inspector of Probation/Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales/Care Quality Commission/Estyn/Healthcare Inspectorate Wales/HMI Constabulary/HMI Prisons/Ofsted
An article examined two recent coalition government proposals for 'victim-focused' crime prevention the domestic violence disclosure scheme, and plans to criminalize stalking behaviour. These supposedly 'preventative' proposals were in fact responsive and problematic, as their implementation relied upon the existence of victims. Rather than effectively preventing abuse, victims' voices were instead being used to enhance and expand legislation. Criminal justice policies alone were unable to prevent violence against women, and more engagement needed to occur outside of the criminal justice arena.
Source: Marian Duggan, 'Using victims' voices to prevent violence against women: a critique', British Journal of Community Justice, Volume 10 Number 2
A new book examined the role of the grooming process in child sexual abuse and what could be done to prevent it.
Source: Anne-Marie McAlinden, 'Grooming' and the Sexual Abuse of Children: Institutional, internet, and familial dimensions, Oxford University Press
A statistical bulletin brought together, for the first time, a range of official statistics providing an overview of sexual offending in England and Wales. Nearly 1 in 5 of all women reported that they had been the victim of a sexual offence since the age of 16.
Source: An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales, Statistical Bulletin, Ministry of Justice/Home Office/Office for National Statistics