Ann Coffey MP was asked to conduct an independent inquiry into the work that has been done to tackle child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester since the conviction of a gang of men in Rochdale. Today she has exclusively revealed to ITV News Granada a chapter on how the justice system is failing victims and not giving vulnerable witnesses enough support.
Ann says the conviction rates show that the criminal justice system alone cannot keep children safe. In a period of 6 years from 2008 to 2013 there were almost 13,000 recorded crimes involving a child under 16 but only just over a 1,000 made it court with a successful conviction.
12,879 recorded crimes
2,341 defendants proceeded against
1,078 found guilty
The report makes 8 specific recommendations with regard to Justice. They include further research into the high number of recorded sexual offences against children and the number of actual prosecutions and convictions in Greater Manchester.
I am concerned about the language used to justify declaring cases unfit for further action by the CPS, which in one case included the fact the girl wore cropped tops. "The victim is known to tend to wear sexualised clothes when she is out of school, such as cropped tops."
Ann concludes that there should be a review of the type of questioning and tone of cross-examinations by defence barristers in child sexual abuse cases and the Crown Prosecution Service should be part of CSE multiagency teams.