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PSNI response to child abuse criticised

By Staff Reporter

Published 11/12/2015

Police launched a major investigation - Operation Owl - into the sexual exploitation of children missing from care in Northern Ireland in 2013 after officers had identified 22 potential victims
Police launched a major investigation - Operation Owl - into the sexual exploitation of children missing from care in Northern Ireland in 2013 after officers had identified 22 potential victims

The PSNI has been criticised after a report into child sex abuse in Northern Ireland found that little effort was made to find those responsible for the crimes.

Police launched a major investigation - Operation Owl - into the sexual exploitation of children missing from care in Northern Ireland in 2013 after officers had identified 22 potential victims.

But a report published yesterday by the Safeguarding Board for Northern examining the PSNI response found they failed to properly examine the extent of child sexual exploitation. It also said attempts to trace and stop child abusers was "limited and inconsistent".

However, it found that PSNI officers were effective in finding the missing teenagers and returning them to the care system.

Detective Chief Superintendent George Clarke said that since Operation Owl, the PSNI had "implemented a number of changes in our approach to handling this issue".

"Indeed, in April of this year, the PSNI formed the Public Protection Branch, which is now responsible for policy and practice in relation to a number of areas including child sexual exploitation," he said.

"The new structures enable us to work closely with our partner agencies in a much more cohesive way than before to ensure better protection and safeguarding for children and young people."

The PSNI had also revised its missing persons protocol, DCS Clarke added.

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