Press release

PM to clamp down on Grooming Gangs

Evil grooming gangs who target children and young women will be stamped out under new plans unveiled by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today (Monday 3 April)

Evil grooming gangs who target children and young women will be stamped out under new plans unveiled by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today (Monday 3 April).

A new Grooming Gangs Taskforce will see specialist officers parachuted in to assist police forces with live child sexual exploitation and grooming investigations to bring more of these despicable criminals to justice.

Led by the police and supported by the National Crime Agency, the taskforce will be made up of officers with extensive experience of undertaking grooming gang investigations. They will provide crucial support to forces across the country to root out grooming gangs and put more perpetrators behind bars.

Data analysts will work alongside the taskforce using cutting edge data and intelligence to identify the types of criminals who carry out these offences, helping police forces across the country catch offenders who might otherwise be missed. This will also include police recorded ethnicity data to make sure suspects cannot evade justice because of cultural sensitivities.

This will include better data on the make-up of grooming gangs, including ethnicity, to make sure suspects cannot hide behind cultural sensitivities as a way to evade justice.

The Prime Minister will launch the taskforce later today. To mark this, he will be in Leeds and Greater Manchester to meet survivors, local police partners and members of the new taskforce.

Speaking ahead of this, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“The safety of women and girls is paramount. For too long, political correctness has stopped us from weeding out vile criminals who prey on children and young women. We will stop at nothing to stamp out these dangerous gangs.”

Alongside the new taskforce, the Prime Minister has pledged to make sure grooming gang members and their ring leaders receive the toughest possible sentences.

Legislation will be introduced to make being the leader of or involved in a grooming gang a statutory aggravating factor during sentencing. This reflects the Government’s unwavering commitment to make sure these offenders face the toughest sentences for their crimes and the longest time behind bars.

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, said:

“Grooming gangs are a scourge on our society and I want to send a clear message to anyone who exploits vulnerable children that they will face the full weight of the law.

“This builds on the extensive action this Government has already taken to introduce tougher sentencing, and the reforms introduced last week in the Victims and Prisoners Bill to keep the most dangerous offenders behind bars, while making sure victims get the support they need at all times.”

Today’s announcement follows on from the Home Secretary’s commitment to bring in mandatory reporting for adults working with children if they suspect or identify that child is being abused. By ensuring people speak out if they have concerns, authorities can stop the abuse, put perpetrators behind bars and get victims the support they need much sooner.

Mandatory Reporting was one the key recommendations in the important Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which gave a voice to thousands of courageous survivors. Today’s announcement shows how seriously the Government is taking the Inquiry’s recommendations.

Speaking in response to the Government’s announcement on mandatory reporting, Professor Alexis Jay OBE, Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and Author, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham, said:

“The Prime Minister’s statement today places a renewed focus on tackling the sexual abuse and exploitation of children by organised networks. I welcome these announcements, some of which reflect the recommendations of the Inquiry’s own report on child sexual exploitation in 2022. The commitment to Mandatory Reporting is very encouraging, and I look forward to working with the Government to ensure that the full package of the Inquiry’s recommendations in its Final Report is taken forward to better protect children from sexual abuse in the future.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:

“Child sexual abuse is one of the most horrific crimes facing our society, it devastates victims, families and whole communities.

“The protection of children is a collective effort. Every adult must be supported to call out child sexual abuse without fear.

“And the despicable abusers must be brought to justice. They should not be able to hide. And they must face the full force of the law for their crimes.

“That’s why I’m introducing a mandatory reporting duty and launching a call for evidence. We must address the failures identified by the Inquiry and take on board the views of the thousands of victims and survivors who contributed to its findings.

“I would encourage everyone to engage with the process once it starts – it is important to have a national conversation about this to shine a light on this terrible – but too often hidden – crime.”

Alongside the mandatory reporting duty, we are bolstering support for the NSPCC’s whistleblowing helpline, as well as their public helpline, giving professionals and members of the public a voice to raise concerns about children, or about child grooming in their community.

Published 2 April 2023