MP Sarah Champion has accused officers of subjecting children to a “second form of abuse” when dealing with their cases after meeting with victims in her role as chairman of the all-party Parliamentary group for victims and witnesses of crime.
It comes following revelations that South Yorkshire Police dismissed young girls who made rape allegations as “lovesick teenagers”, the latest to emerge in the wake of the Jay report into Rotherham’s abuse scandal, triggering the resignation of a number of senior council staff and the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright.
Voters will take to the polls today to select his replacement in a by-election, the result of which is announced tomorrow.
Ms Champion told The Yorkshire Post she is gathering further evidence on police attitudes from young victims of sexual grooming from across the UK as part of the group’s inquiry. She said: “This came as no surprise to me. I have been meeting victims and they consistently say that the police belittle their situation. Often they are told that they brought it upon themselves.
“Almost every victim I have spoken to said they regarded their interaction with the police as a second form of abuse.
“I’m calling for written evidence on the police handling of young victims, and what support is available to them. This will lead to a number of recommendations which I will demand be implemented. The current situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “We are now operating with a deeper understanding of child sexual exploitation. We are acutely aware of the grooming process and the impact it has on a child.”