Shocking details emerge of six child abuse investigations in Bedfordshire

Beds Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway has revealed there are six child sex exploitation investigations in Bedfordshire that are 'ferociously absorbing' police resources.

Thursday, 16th November 2017, 10:43 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 6:37 pm

Giving evidence about the state of policing before the Home Affairs select committee on Tuesday, Mrs Holloway gave details of two investigations.

She said: “Currently in Bedfordshire, there are six major child sexual exploitation investigations, all with the type of nuances that we’ve seen recently in Rotherham and in Rochdale, Oxford and Manchester.

“Historically, we have an investigation which covers offences involving young girls from a children’s home being taken to parties and raped by multiple groups of men. Four females reported this abuse when they were children.

“As a result, there were 100 people of interest to be seen, professionals have been spoken to in relation to the case and 25 new disclosures have emerged.

“In contrast, we have a current case with two young teenage victims who have been repeatedly raped by male gang members while semi conscious through drink and drugs. The investigation is continuing...”

Elsewhere, Mrs Holloway also revealed there is a “lost generation” of children growing up under Jihadism.

She said: “We discovered through our Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit in the last year to 18 months, what is in effect a lost generation of children being brought up in households where there is Jihadist material and so on.

“They were unknown to police, unknown to education, unknown to social services and unknown to health.”

Mrs Holloway gave a robust defence of Bedfordshire Police’s performance and told the committee that it worked “miracles” in spite of its funding woes.

She said: “Bedfordshire Police has made £34.7m of cuts and if I tell you our overall annual revenue is £102m, you will see that is around a third of [our] annual revenue.

“It’s no wonder that Bedfordshire Police is an open secret as being in the worst position of any of the 43 police forces of England and Wales.”

Teams working on the six CSE investigations are said to be “limited” and social workers have been requested from local authorities to help carry out witness interviews.

Bedfordshire Police was the only force in the country to be rated “Inadequate” by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS) last year and it currently holds a “Requires Improvement” rating.

Mrs Holloway said: “In July of this year, I had to make the first complaint against HMICFRS to question a lack of impartiality, balance and fairness.

“There’s nothing fair about putting together a report ... and making recommendations – implied as actions to take – which are known to be unaffordable and as a result unachievable.”

In a financial report sent to ministers, Mrs Holloway said the force needed an additional £10m to stay afloat.

She said: “If things remain unchanged, we face £11.4m to £12.5m of cuts in the next four years.... What is required is £10m extra per year.”

In February, the Leighton Buzzard Observer reported the story of a businessman who desperately called 999 for help as his colleague was being threatened with a metal bar by armed robbers, but police failed to attend.

The incident was brought up by South West Beds MP Andrew Selous during a House of Commons debate, as he made an impassioned plea for extra funding for Bedfordshire Police.

In response, Policing Minister Nick Hurd admitted the case provided “powerful” support to demands for more police funding in Bedfordshire.

The businessman told the LBO at the time: “God help you if you’re in Leighton Buzzard ringing 999, because the police won’t come in time.”

The Government’s Spending Review will be announced on November 22.