Today the Newcastle Safeguarding Boards have published their Operation Sanctuary Joint Serious Case Review Report. It covered the whole scope of the investigation by the Northumberland police force into sexual abuse in Newcastle and the subsequent action that needs to be taken to prevent this from ever happening again. Over 462 arrests have been made since Operation Sanctuary began in January 2014.
The 150 page report compiled over two and a half years lists 33 recommendations, 18 of which will need to be implemented on a local level. It acknowledges the hard work of Newcastle’s Multi Agency Sexual Exploitation Hub, which was specifically praised as an outstanding model of good practice. It also notes that “political correctness” in no way limited their efforts to protect and support the victims.
The report also contains an upsetting account of the traumas the victims endured. I am immensely grateful to them for their courage in helping the investigation, and the strength that they showed in testifying against their abusers in the face of considerable emotional distress. The horror of the details given in their testimonies must be acknowledged, but their bravery should inspire us to continue to do our utmost to protect young girls and vulnerable adults from becoming victims of such appalling crimes in future.
I welcome the recommendation that more support should be given to victims and potential victims of sexual assault both before, in a preventative capacity, and after abuses have taken place. It is clear that more needs to be done in protecting both vulnerable adults and children as highlighted in the report, and I will be writing to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP to discuss a way to resolve these pressing issues.