Police need to take down the groomers and abusers at the top

(17 October, 2019) Editorials

There is no suggestion that Clinton was involved in a gang himself, but we do know that young boys from this estate and others are at risk of grooming and abuse by older men

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Clinton’s family made the difficult decision to leave their home and move somewhere new to try to keep him safe. How cruel that their efforts were ultimately in vain.

Although the circumstances of his attack are not yet know –as yet no one has been arrested and police have shared no descriptions or information about his attacker or attackers – it is widely believed that he had decided to return to Camberwell to visit his friends.

There is no suggestion that Clinton was involved in a gang himself, but we do know that young boys from this estate and others are at risk of grooming and abuse by older men.

Families choose to move for various reasons, but in some cases this is an active policy due to credible threat to life or other intelligence about the risk to a vulnerable person, and it is often coordinated with the police and local authority.

One youth worker we spoke to voiced concerns that the support for those families was enough.

In some cases they may find themselves shuttled between different local authorities and police forces, and swapping one area of deprivation for another – but without their support networks.

The county lines phenomenon means these highly organised drug networks have bases in all four ports, and are potentially landing in rival gang territory or in an area where their networks may be operating.

Vulnerable children who are at risk and join a new school immediately stand out. And on social media, they are always contactable and visible to their old community. Short of having a new identity, it is very difficult to truly leave one world or life behind.

The tactics used by gangs are akin to grooming by abusers and paedophiles. Everyone agrees that prevention, and giving young people the tools to spot these predators and say no is critical.

But the problem will only stop when the police take down those at the top. They are the ones truly responsible – not their victims.

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