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CEOP, a National Crime Agency Command, London 12 th June 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "CEOP, a National Crime Agency Command, London 12 th June 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 CEOP, a National Crime Agency Command, London 12 th June 2014

2  Stranger Child Abduction in the UK (Craig Collie, University of Portsmouth)  Police perspective - investigative challenges and community impact (Local investigations) (Charlie Hedges, CEOP)  Police perspective - investigative challenges and community impact (Child Rescue Alert) (Charlie Hedges, CEOP)  Offenders - what do we know, what don't we know (Helen Whittle, Behavioural Analysis Unit, CEOP)  Prevention – beyond stranger danger? (Geoff Newiss, PACT)

3  Where are the gaps in knowledge?

4 Prevalence  True number of abductions unknown (hidden by recording under other crimes e.g. rape or murder)  Under-reporting of offences (e.g. why are offences/attempts not reported, how to encourage reporting)  Drivers of increase/decrease in child abduction  Influence and impact and increased opportunities created by the internet (any evidence of displacement from offline to online offending?) The abduction  How to define opportunism? The offender may still have rehearsed and planned the event even if (s)he hadn’t planned to do it at that particular time  Motivation (differences and implications e.g. gang; maternal; sexual)  Any crossover/overlap with internal trafficking  Attempted abductions (How do they differ to completed abductions? What can we learn from failed attempts? What are the consequences of attempts for the offender i.e. what does he/she do next?)  Timescale of the abduction (opportunities to intervene/exploit)  Geography of offences, locations (encounter, attack, release or disposal), distance travelled to and from offences ◦ Investigators don’t always know the abduction site ◦ A vehicle sighting might be one of the first lines of inquiry  When should attempts be subject to a full and urgent police response?  Differences between kidnap, false imprisonment, abduction, trafficking

5 The victim  Understanding victimology and what that tells us about the offender  Understanding vulnerabilities of victims ( lack of understanding of risk, opportunistic, etc) and relationship between vulnerability and opportunity  Particular risk to/vulnerability of children from low SES families and children with disabilities and mental health issues or those with an autistic spectrum disorder  Relationship between “missing” and abduction The offender  Perceptions of threat based on offender characteristics e.g. gender, relationship to victim  Offenders with no previous criminal record (Is this really their first offence? How do we find them? What was their journey from thought to action?)  Characteristics of offenders – who commits these offences and can we extrapolate any information on the offender from the MO of the abduction?  Relationship between online and offline offending  Risk assessment of offenders and link to behaviour  Predicting future behaviour  Hidden identities and factors relevant/influencing their release

6 The investigation and prosecution  When an abduction occurs, investigators might not know whether it is stranger abduction (or whether it is indeed an abduction), can research on the early stages of the offence/investigation identify signs/indicators of what has happened?  Police response (Overt/covert; intelligence; public/private...)  Outcome of case (e.g. influences) Prevention and intervention  Prevention and intervention – what works?  How effective has the sex offender register been and what has been its impact on abductions  Rehabilitation of offenders  Victim support by charities (e.g. good practice; are police aware of support services available for victims and families?)

7  Police perspective - investigative challenges and community impact (local investigations) Charlie Hedges, CEOP

8  “Stranger danger” – false perception of prevalence but you don’t want your child to be that one victim  Media hype ◦ Parents want reassurance ◦ Insurance companies want to include abduction and Child Sexual Exploitation in their policies ◦ Need a middle ground between inaccuracy of there being “an offender behind every tree” and the other extreme of “it’s all hype”  Something in the news somewhere in the UK every day – we lose the picture in crime reporting ◦ crime statistics report the most significant/serious crime which occurred in that event (e.g. homicide or rape) ◦ Could examine child murders and sex offences to see how many start with abduction ◦ Abduction is the MO, a means to an end

9  Danger in categorising all abductions together ◦ losing sight of differences ◦ missing more discrete and implicit behaviours/experiences ◦ E.g. rapists are not a homogenous group and by putting them all together, there is a danger that we will miss some of the detail

10  First challenge - All we know is a child is missing – we don’t know what has happened (runaway, abduction etc)  Investigation can’t be channelled/focussed in one area alone too early on, has to be as broad as possible and all possible scenarios considered (e.g. abduction, runaway, accident) ◦ Balance verification and responding quickly ◦ What did the reporter see? Did they misinterpret what they saw?  What is a stranger? Children can’t always tell the difference and the lines may be blurred in online relationships  Police response might depend on whether offender believes he/she has been seen ◦ Respond in a way the offender would consider appropriate

11  Language/terminology of first report – can be difficult to work out exactly what happened ◦ Differences between police, public and media definitions/understanding of “abduction” and “kidnap” ◦ Reporter’s heightened state of arousal ◦ Age of the reporter (age of victim in attempts too) ◦ Important to have assessment of risk when the call comes in (as in missing cases), sometimes definitions get in the way ◦ First responder needs to be trained to elicit the information (lack of resources in this respect but it is better now than in the past) ◦ Better to “go high” immediately than “start low and fight way up”

12  How many attempts become actual abductions? ◦ How concerned should we be? ◦ We know about motivation for abductions but not in terms of attempts – is the excitement or thrill of the attempt enough?  Often police are just not aware of them (not reported) ◦ Cases not necessarily dealt with effectively ◦ BUT it is difficult to deal with such cases  Need to invest more time ◦ We deal with them a lot but know little about them ◦ Victim doesn’t know what the offender’s intention was  We just DON’T KNOW whether they’re going to go on to commit a murder

13  Further guidance and good practice advice required for practitioners ◦ Difficult – some dislike the idea of “guidance” due to the risk of constriction of thinking, they want police to use their discretion and judgement ◦ There is currently no separate authorised professional practice on abductions – information is included in other manuals e.g. the Murder Manual  Research concerning attempted abductions to understand prevalence, motivations and relation to successful abductions and other forms of offending  Gathering intelligence from partners concerning attempted abductions (possible role for school liaison and community support officers) ◦ Consider age of victim – teenagers might be more likely to tell friends

14  How can we improve clarity of data?  What are the key challenges?

15  Context needed in reporting of police stats  Need to be clear about what type of data and what purpose – e.g. improve data for police intel and improve data for research ◦ There’s a difference between intel and statistical data ◦ Is it a realistic expectation for police to record all attempts/unreported events?  Harmonisation of police recording procedures  Prevalence surveys may be subjective (different perceptions/interpretations – public, police, children)  Agencies/teams supporting the police don’t always receive case updates making evaluation of advice given and operational learning difficult

16  Who is involved in Child Rescue Alert cases?  What are the main barriers and obstacles to working together?  What is needed?

17 Who is involved?  Police  NCA  Charities  Media (social and traditional)  Public Questions/challenges:  How often should it be used? Branding vs “CRA fatigue”  How to encourage people to sign up?  Remit - should CRA inform the public and/or receive information from the public?  What is the most effective way to present information to maximise the quality and relevance of leads from the public (e.g. most useful descriptors, best use of language)?  How to make sure you identify the “golden nuggets”?  How much is known from a risk assessment perspective (risk to child, reaction of offender)?

18 What is needed?  Clear guidance to avoid duplication ◦ Training and policy in forces  Needs to be used often enough that people feel comfortable using it but not so often as for it to lose impact – focussed use  Ability to prioritise information as it comes in ◦ E.G. filter messages – did you see the child yourself?  Need to be able to manage the response ◦ Cannot control the media ◦ More calls received following alert in UK than in other European countries  Know what NOT to do, to avoid spurring the offender to harm the victim  Research/greater understanding of false sightings and how to identify them

19  How can research translate into practice and assist in this area?  How can research translate into practice and improve prevention strategies?

20  Graduation from non-contact to contact offending  The inter-relationships between physical child abduction and other types of offending  Is the abductor a different type of person to the “usual” sex offender? ◦ Assumptions about “type” of offender can derail investigation. Important that practitioners understand that they are not a homogeneous group  Role of grooming – pre and post abduction  Offender decision-making  Types of MO  Reoffending patterns  Warning signs/behaviours  Police decision making in focusing investigation  Risk assessment  Any influence/impact/increase in opportunities created by internet

21  Prevention and intervention strategies for offenders and victims ◦ The role/awareness of family members ◦ Computer technology developing at an alarming pace – training and awareness needed ◦ What factors encourage or discourage reporting? ◦ Environmental and educational approaches  Treatment of juvenile sex offenders ◦ What is sexually harmful behaviour for children and young people? ◦ Early interventions and risk assessment ◦ How to encourage parents to seek assistance for their children?

22 Research is essential for practitioners but…  There can be misinterpretation and cherry- picking of research findings by practitioners ◦ Academics need to ensure practitioners understand caveats/limits of findings – emphasise this  Research needs to be written in such a way that it is easily accessible to practitioners  There is a need to balance how much you say and what you don’t reveal (so you don’t educate offenders)  There needs to be more collaboration between researchers/academics and practitioners ◦ Good practice – contracting/tendering for researchers to explore practitioner-identified research questions

23  Prevention – beyond stranger danger? Geoff Newiss, PACT

24  Attempted abduction cases are mentioned via social media all the time even though completed abductions are rare ◦ It is not a “historic” problem as we are sometimes told  How do we help children and young people to understand the risk from online and real world strangers? ◦ definitional issues e.g. what a child considers a “stranger” or a “friend”  Need to consider children with learning needs and disabilities  Behavioural skills training is most effective (Miltenberg & Olsen, 1996) – practice and rehearse skills ◦ Make children aware of different lures (e.g. sample, authority, incentive, etc) in broad sense (e.g. don’t have to do everything that an adult tells you) ◦ The earlier the better. PSHE curricula is not compulsory. Some schools might do it, others will not  Building self-esteem and confidence in children and young people is important

25  Dr. Karen Shalev-Greene, Centre for the Study of Missing Persons, University of Portsmouth Email: /  Dr. Llian Alys, Chartered Psychologist and researcher (previously - University of Bedfordshire) Email:

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