Stakeholder update May 2022
Dear Operation Hydrant Stakeholder,
Its been some time since we updated you on the work of Operation Hydrant, preferring to provide these updates as they are relevant rather than on a fixed rolling cycle. We hope you find this update informative, and always welcome your views and feedback.
Our most recent statistics covering the period 1 January to 31 March 2022, were published in April. The link to the statistics is here for ease, in case you have not already visited them :
Broadly the trends remain the same – a steady increase in reporting from victims, and with institutional based non-recent child sexual abuse considerably more prevalent that allegations relating to people in the public eye (currently less than 3% of all reports). Within institutions, education continues to see the highest number of suspects.
Of note is that this is the last publication of the quarterly statistics in its current format. Our final set of published statistics under the current structure will cover the period April – June, and be published in July, but these will only include the updates received from forces, rather than new reports. As Operation Hydrant moves to its new structure, the data that we hold, and the analysis and research we undertake in relation to it, will change. More on that below.
Enhancing pathways for those seldom heard
We are pleased to inform you that LimeCulture were successful in securing a second year of commission to undertake work to understand and mitigate the barriers which can make it harder for some groups and communities to report child sexual abuse, and to create pathways for those groups to support and advice.
The work is commissioned by Operation Hydrant but is undertaken completely independently of policing as we recognise there are victims and survivors who may benefit from these pathways, but who will not wish to engage with policing.
During the first year of commissioned work, LimeCulture have focused on a number of groups / communities, including the gypsy, traveller, Roma community, and people with disabilities. Their findings are shared with a network of ISVAs across the country and have been extremely well received. Their guidance is evidence based and includes the views and perspectives of victims and survivors within the specific communities. You can access the guidance developed so far via the LimeCulture website, or by following this link: https://limeculture.co.uk/research/
As LimeCulture enter year two of their national ISVA work, they will identify a number of additional groups or communities to engage with, and for 2022, this will include those who are homeless.
The FA parent and carer guide
Operation Hydrant remains keen to work with partners and stakeholders to help inform and support victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, and to raise awareness to prevent and protect. For this reason, we were delighted to have been consulted on the development of a guide to inform parents and carers of children developed recently by The FA and launched on National Children’s Day.
The guide is a useful resource, which may benefit a wider cohort of those working to support and inform, and can be found on The FA website or the course can be taken here.
As a key stakeholder, we would be delighted to hear of any resources or guides you may have developed in the field of safeguarding or child protection, and where appropriate, we can consider cascading these resources across our internal policing audience in the UK. Just get in touch and share!
Operation Hydrant Annual Report 2021
The Operation Hydrant Annual Report covering the calendar year 2021, will be shared with you as key stakeholders in June. The Report is in the final stages of completion, and provides an overview of the work of Operation Hydrant during 2021, trends in reporting of non-recent child sexual abuse, and a look forward to the future.
As you are aware, 2022 is a transition year for Operation Hydrant, with our new structures set to be in place for 1 August, so the 2021 Report will be the last full calendar year report working to the original Operation Hydrant criteria.
We hope you find the Report informative to your work.
Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel
Operation Hydrant administers the Child Sexual Abuse Review Panel (CSARP), and we have shared updates on the work of the Panel with you previously.
Launched in June 2013, the Panel provides an opportunity for victims of child sexual abuse whose allegations were decided as no further action by police or CPS, to have their cases reviewed. The Panel is a joint enterprise between police and CPS, and will consider if the original approach was wrong and will advise whether a case should be reinvestigated by the police or the prosecution decision reviewed by the CPS. An independent also sits on the panel.
Since being set up, 301 cases have been referred to CSARP, and 78% of these were reinvestigated by police or reconsidered by CPS. The CSARP will review cases not covered by the Victims Right to Review Scheme.
We have seen a slowdown in the number of cases being referred to the Panel. This may be because the CSARP has met its purpose, but it may also be that victims and survivors are unaware of what the Panel can offer. A promotional campaign in 2020 saw the number of cases referred to the Panel double, following the support of survivor David Lean who outlined what the CSARP had achieved for him.
With this in mind Operation Hydrant will be launching a promotional campaign in early Autumn to further raise awareness of the work of the Panel, and what it can offer victims and survivors. The outcomes of this campaign will contribute to informing the future of the CSARP.
We are sharing visibility of the forthcoming campaign with you now with a request to consider supporting the campaign across your audiences and platforms so that we can maximise the number of victims and survivors who are aware of the offer from the Panel. Further details will be shared with you over the next month or so.
Meanwhile, if you want to revisit David’s video on the CSARP, you can do so via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpZUaOW_MQg
Operation Hydrant Future structures
Operation Hydrant is due to commence its new structure on 1 August, and is working presently to transition to that new structure, while continuing to deliver core business.
The new structure will see the work of Operation Hydrant expand to encompass all elements of child protection and abuse investigation. The current criteria – coordinating the response to non-recent child sexual abuse involving allegations against people of public prominence or within an institutional setting - will no longer apply. Instead, we will be providing support across the full remit of the NPCC child protection and abuse investigation portfolio led by DCC Ian Critchley, as well as supporting critical work streams spanning a number of NPCC portfolios, including violence against women and girls and harmful sexual behaviour.
This new structure will see us close our HOLMES database, and we received the last monthly update from forces in March 2022 providing data on suspects, victims, and locations within the old criteria. We will continue to receive updates from forces on outcomes and progression of investigations they have already notified us of until the 30 June 2022, but no new cases from April. Although the HOLMES database will close to incoming data, we will retain the information on it for reference, coordination, and deconfliction purposes if required.
Our Analysis and Research team will then contribute to a wider national network of analysts focused on capturing, collating, and interpreting a broad range of data relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation. This includes analysts within our sister programme the Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP). The outcome from this is the opportunity for policing to develop processes to capture a richer picture of the scale, nature, trends, and complex variables which shape the landscape of vulnerability.
Our referrals team will continue to receive referrals from outside policing, and work to develop additional pathways between policing and key partners and stakeholders.
The importance of continuous learning, and the opportunity for policing’s response to child sexual abuse and exploitation to continue to evolve, has always been a lynchpin of Operation Hydrant’s work. Under the new structure, we will deliver an expanded Peer Review and Peer Support offer, designed to inform complex investigations, share learning, identify, and promote good practice. We will do this working collaboratively with the VKPP and the College of Policing.
As you can see – there is a lot of work ongoing as we reach the final months of our transition to our new structures. We will be providing you with more detail, and keeping you informed as we progress on this journey. Watch out for our new logo on your next Stakeholder Update!
VKPP and TOEX
Finally, you will be aware of our close working relationship with our two sister national programmes – Vulnerability Knowledge and Practice Programme (VKPP) and Tackling Organised Exploitation Programme (TOEX).
The Operation Hydrant communications team are part of a national Vulnerability Communications Hub which also services the VKPP and TOEX, and elsewhere in our work, collaborative working across all three programmes is taking place with some great outcomes – including the peer review and peer support function (as outlined above), analysis and research, stakeholder engagement, and partnership development.
What you may not be aware of is that both programmes have this year launched bespoke websites to provide greater accessibility to information, inform and update. You can visit the websites by following the links below:
Operation Hydrant continues to have bespoke space on the NPCC website.
Thank you for your time, and we hope you found this update useful. If you have any feedback or questions, please do get in touch.