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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Council Leader says there is ‘no hiding place’ for those who exploit children in the District

There will be “no hiding place” for people who have exploited young people in Bradford – a Council leader has pledged.

Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe made the claim after hearing that there were currently 14 live investigations into historic sexual abuse underway in the District.

And 37 people are currently awaiting trial having been charged with historic abuse.

Members of the Council’s Executive were given an update on the work done by Bradford District Safeguarding Children Partnership at a meeting on Tuesday.

Speaking at the meeting were representatives from West Yorkshire Police and children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The meeting heard of the work being done by Operation Dalesway – a specialist police team set up to investigate historic sex abuse claims. Some of these involve cases dating back over a decade.

In the past year eight people investigated through Operation Dalesway have been handed prison sentences totalling 90 years.

Cllr Hinchliffe said: “It is important that perpetrators know they will be prosecuted, no matter how far back the crimes were committed.

“They will be hunted down.

“There is no hiding place for people who exploit vulnerable children and adults in our District.”

The report said while there were still new cases being investigated – they appeared to be smaller scale than some cases that recently made it to court – with fewer defendents linked to each case.

The report to members said: “Police do not see a significant new wave of reports, but as the threat has evolved and changed over time, the emergence of new demand cannot be ruled out.”

Superintendent Richard Padwell, of Bradford District Police, attended the meeting and told members child safeguarding was an issue that was now a top priority for police.

He said: “I joined police 25 years ago, and safeguarding wasn’t something that was talked about that widely then.

“The safeguarding team was on one table in the corner of an office.

“Now the safeguarding team is on an entire floor of a station. We have teams of officers going to schools.

“There has been a sea change in how we look at the issue in recent years.”

Referring to a section of the report that revealed there were 312 “at risk” children in Bradford currently identified by the partnership, he said: “Unfortunately there will be other children that we haven’t been made aware of.

“For a lot of young people the risk is at home – the risk comes from people within their own family.”

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