Police officer called child sex abuse victim a ‘little bitch’ during interview, report claims


A police officer called a child sex abuse victim a ‘little bitch’ during an interview, while many other survivors were accused of lying when they came forward, a report claims. 

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said police and other professionals were also reported to be dismissive of peer-on-peer abuse and tended to blame the individual.

The inquiry spoke to 56 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse between the ages of 11 and 21, and 77 specialist support workers for its latest report.

Their experience of the police varied ‘dramatically’, with a small number of victims and survivors impressed by the sensitivity of investigating officers and by how well informed they had been throughout.

But many spoke of how the system ‘takes over’ when they reported the abuse, making them feel disempowered and deterring them from sharing information again.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said the findings were ‘deeply concerning’ and that it would review and reflect on the report.

The inquiry spoke to 56 victims and survivors of child sexual abuse between the ages of 11 and 21, and 77 specialist support workers for its latest report

‘Deeply ashamed’ ministers apologise for sharp decline in rape convictions

Priti Patel and Robert Buckland last week apologised to rape victims as they admitted they were ‘deeply ashamed’ after a review found that just 1,439 rapists out of 128,000 rapes committed in the past year were convicted.

The Home Secretary, Justice Secretary and Attorney General Michael Ellis called the failings in the criminal justice system ‘completely unacceptable’ as they vowed to prosecute more than 1,000 extra rape suspects by the end of the current Parliament.

A 60-page review revealed that 57 per cent of rape victims withdraw from their cases because they feel judged or disbelieved, fear for their mental health, and cannot face the trauma of a trial.

Just 1,929 rape victims out of around 128,000 in the past year saw their suspected attacker charge – a rate of just 1.5 per cent – down from more than eight per cent on just five years ago.

In a foreword to the report, which sets out measures to reverse plummeting rape prosecution rates, Miss Patel and Mr Buckland said: ‘We owe this to every victim and are extremely sorry that the system has reached this point.

‘These are trends of which we are deeply ashamed. Victims of rape are being failed. Thousands of victims have gone without justice. But this isn’t just about numbers – every instance involves a real person who has suffered a truly terrible crime.

‘We are not prepared to accept that rape is just ‘too difficult’ a crime to prosecute. We can, and must, do better. At the heart of this review is a system and culture change to ensure that victims feel supported and able to stay engaged with their case.’

Some told the inquiry the police had managed their privacy and confidentiality concerns poorly, which in some cases led to retaliation from people linked to the abuser.

Many told the inquiry they had been accused of lying, and some said the police do not believe a child if they do not get upset while reporting.

It heard that many had found the speed and number of questions in interviews ‘overwhelming’ and the constant questioning made young people ‘feel disbelieved from the outset’.

The inquiry heard that one child was said to have been referred to as a ‘little bitch’ by an officer.

Many victims and survivors also told the inquiry they received insensitive responses when speaking out at school.

One teacher is said to have stopped a child while they were disclosing an incident, saying: ‘Don’t tell me because I will have to repeat this.’

Relationships and sex education in schools was ‘largely inadequate’, the report found, with some respondents having no lessons and others only having the basics taught.

One victim and survivor said: ‘If we had the education, we would notice the abuse a lot sooner, and we would know the signs.’

Overall, the researchers heard that victims and survivors face delays in accessing support, and that the introduction of mandatory reporting could discourage children from coming forward.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley, said: ‘We will review and reflect on this report in relation to the panel’s engagement with children and young people.

‘By listening to and hearing from young people who have courageously shared their experiences, we can continue to improve how we protect children from harm and give confidence in how we respond when abuse is reported to us.

‘Whilst it is deeply concerning to hear that some young victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have been accused of lying when coming forward to police, I know that we have dedicated, professional staff across the country who treat victims with compassion, respect and take reports of child abuse seriously.

‘We will consider very seriously the views of young people within this report and use it to further develop the way we work together with our partners to protect children.’

National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley said the findings were 'deeply concerning' and that the report would be reviewed and reflected upon

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, Deputy Chief Constable Ian Critchley said the findings were ‘deeply concerning’ and that the report would be reviewed and reflected upon

It comes after Priti Patel and Robert Buckland last week apologised to rape victims as they admitted they were ‘deeply ashamed’ after a review found that just 1,439 rapists out of 128,000 rapes committed in the past year were convicted.

The Home Secretary, Justice Secretary and Attorney General Michael Ellis called the failings in the criminal justice system ‘completely unacceptable’ as they vowed to prosecute more than 1,000 extra rape suspects by the end of the current Parliament.

A 60-page review revealed that 57 per cent of rape victims withdraw from their cases because they feel judged or disbelieved, fear for their mental health, and cannot face the trauma of a trial.

Just 1,929 rape victims out of around 128,000 in the past year saw their suspected attacker charge – a rate of just 1.5 per cent – down from more than eight per cent on just five years ago.

In a foreword to the report, which sets out measures to reverse plummeting rape prosecution rates, Miss Patel and Mr Buckland said: ‘We owe this to every victim and are extremely sorry that the system has reached this point.

‘These are trends of which we are deeply ashamed. Victims of rape are being failed. Thousands of victims have gone without justice. But this isn’t just about numbers – every instance involves a real person who has suffered a truly terrible crime.

‘We are not prepared to accept that rape is just ‘too difficult’ a crime to prosecute. We can, and must, do better. At the heart of this review is a system and culture change to ensure that victims feel supported and able to stay engaged with their case.’

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