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Stakeholder update Feb 2023

As we say goodbye to the first month of the year and welcome the lighter nights and hints of spring all around us, there are signs of growth for the Hydrant Programme too! Following our restructure in the summer of last year, we have now reviewed the way the programme is progressing and will be expanding our research capability along with welcoming a new member of staff to the Peer Review, Peer Support and Learning team. This is great news, and a reflection of the pace we’ll be working at throughout 2023. Watch this space for more updates as projects develop.

Before Christmas we brought you the news that NPCC Lead for Child Protection, DCC Ian Critchley will retire at the end of March. Plans are progressing for the governance of this area of work from the beginning of April and we’ll keep you posted on what’s next.

This month there’s lots to let you know about, we hope you find this bulletin useful and informative. If there’s anything you would like to be included next month or you have feedback, please do drop Jenny Leaning a line – [email protected] – it’s always great to hear from you.  

Online offending workshop

On Friday 20 January the Hydrant Programme hosted a workshop which brought together a number of subject matter experts from the vulnerability sector to consider the key elements of online child sexual abuse investigation. Hydrant Programme Director Richard Fewkes was joined by DCC Ian Critchley’s staff officer and CPAI working group lead Cath Cox along with colleagues from around the country representing forces, wider law enforcement organisations, other NPCC programmes and the CPS.

The aim of the workshop was to identify the latest investigative responses, effective practice and advances in technical capabilities to assist investigators, as well as legislation that supports investigation and an opportunity for delegates to share their knowledge and experience and thereby contribute to the development of national practice advice. 

The Hydrant Programme will now produce best practice advice in relation to online offending which has been commissioned by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the NCA. This will be circulated to all forces to inform their investigative approach in this area.  

Policing response to the IICSA recommendations 

As we wait for government to formally respond to recommendations made by the IICSA, teams within the Hydrant Programme have been working with partners from across the vulnerability sector, government and of course policing to address some of the key themes raised by the IICSA.  

As we all know, data quality in relation to large and complex sexual abuse investigations is a key area which must be addressed in order to give policing and partners greater ability to tackle abuse nationally, regionally and locally.

Door with Hearing Room on the sign

For several years now, forces, through the regional analyst network, have been providing the Vulnerability, Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP) with data in relation to large and complex child sexual abuse investigations. In April, this process will be replaced with a single data request to forces that will service the needs of the VKPP, the regional CSE analyst network and be used to populate a new dataset – the Complex and Organised Child Abuse Database (COCAD). COCAD will replace a database previously held by the VKPP and the Hydrant Programme has now taken responsibility for this process. 

Forces will be asked to provide a data return including a range of different metrics that can be extracted from their force crime systems. The result of this will be a more detailed picture of offending and victim profiles which will inform national policing. Analysis of this data will be published quarterly.  

As the project progresses, we’ll bring you more detail and introduce the products produced as a result of this work.  

VKPP conference

The third virtual National Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP) Conference will take place on Wednesday 15 March 2023 between 0930-1630. The conference will focus on the priority area of protecting children and adults affected by vulnerability related risk and harm. 

The remote conference is free to attend and will focus on how policing is responding to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), discuss the barriers and enablers to listening to the voice of the victim within police investigations and strategic decision-making, alongside the importance of leadership, partnerships and culture in driving positive change. 

The event will provide policing colleagues and partners with an opportunity to come together to explore the latest knowledge, research and innovation across the vulnerability space. Professionals involved in developing, shaping and leading safeguarding and public protection are encouraged to attend. 

The agenda is evolving as workshops/speakers are finalised and the VKPP will confirm full details soon. 

VKPP conference details

Head of Communications set to retire 

 After over 30 years of service to police comms, Jacqui Hanson, Hydrant’s Head of Communications will retire just before the end of March.  

Jacqui joined the then Operation Hydrant in 2015 when NPCC Lead for Child Protection Simon Bailey identified a clear need for a strategic communications approach to addressing victim and public confidence in policing following the significant media coverage of several high profile non-recent CSA investigations involving media figures and institutions. Jacqui was, of course, the woman for the job and has been an integral part of the Hydrant team ever since.  

Last year, Jacqui was awarded a Lifetime achievement award at the Association of Police Communicators annual Academy, well deserved recognition of all she has contributed, and the support and guidance provided to so many forces, partners and stakeholders.  

Jacqui admits she won’t be able to go from 100mph to 30 or 40 straight away so is busy making plans to keep her skills sharp, but she is certainly looking forward to long walks with her beloved dog and not having to set an alarm during the week! 

Hydrant is looking forward to welcoming a new Head of Communications in March who we’ll introduce very soon.  


Earlier this year we replaced our weekly environmental scanning document ‘Look Forward and Back’ with the Daily News Summary – a high level look at current issues relevant to child protection abuse and investigation, and violence against women and girls. The Daily News Summary contains top line information from local, regional and national media outlets along with links to the features for those who may like to delve a little deeper into the coverage.  

If you would to be added to the circulation list for the Daily News Summary drop a line to [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

Tackling Child Exploitation – regional events throughout March

The Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Programme was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to develop multi-agency Practice Principles for child exploitation and extra-familial harm which are:  

  • Grounded in research, informed by practice wisdom and reflect the expertise from lived experience of children, young people, parents and carers.
  • Designed to be used by all professionals involved in responding to child exploitation and / or harm outside the home.
  • Speak to those engaged in direct work, operational managers who support this work, and those in strategic leadership and partnership roles.
  • The Practice Principles build on the strengths that already exist across the sector and were developed through consultation with professionals, children, young people, parents, and carers.

The principles and associated resources aim to support coherent, collaborative and creative responses to child exploitation and extra-familial harm publication will be shared in February.   

Regional dissemination events will offer an opportunity to learn about the Practice Principles and the supporting resources. The event will run for 1.5 hours featuring short presentations, small group breakouts, and large group feedback.  

Find out more

Digital Conference – Tackling Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Monday 27 February 0930 – 13:30 

Westminster Insight are hosting a digital conference covering: 

  • Next steps to incorporating all recommendations from the IICSA final report 
  • What will be the impact of the Online Safety Bill? 
  • Learning lessons: creating a safer future for all children 
  • Reducing victim attrition from services through effective multi-agency partnerships 
  • Identifying child sexual abuse and exploitation before disclosure and ramping up disruption tactics 
  • Keeping children safe online 
  • Exploring new methods for disrupting online grooming 
  • Incorporating child-centred values and actively listening to victims across services 
  • Exploring police responses to child sexual exploitation by organised networks 

There will be presenters from schools, local authorities, social services, and police including the Hydrant Programme Director, Richard Fewkes.

Digital conference details