Så langt har enheten ”Sexual Explotaion Team, satt i gang fire uavhengige ”fullskala” undersøkelser på bakgrunn av bekymringsmeldinger, heter det.
Skottland Yard har introdusert nye retningslinjer i kampen mot gjengene, retningslinjer som involverer politi, sosialtjenesten og veldedighetsorganisasjoner, og som gir veiledning om hvordan identifisere et barn i risikosonen.
Denne grove kriminaliteten har foregått i årevis, men antakelig av såkalt ”frykt for rasisme”, da gjengene stort sette er voksne menn med pakistansk bakgrunn, har politi og andre instanser vegret seg for å gripe inn. I fjor kom en form for gjennombrudd, da en gjeng på syv menn i Oxford satt på tiltalebenken. Saken vakte nasjonal ramaskrik. Samtlige syv fikk livstid for å ha utnyttet jenter i alderen 11 – 15 år.
Bildet som er tegnet i media er at ofrene er typisk hvite briter, gjerne fra oppsplittede familier, igjen typisk boende på institusjoner. Dette bildet sprekker opp. Et offer forteller om sin bakgrunn, et offer som nå hjelper politiet med å identifisere andre ofre:
A victim of the Oxford sex ring is helping police in London to identify victims of child grooming gangs.
The woman, who was 12 at the time she was first assaulted, has filmed a video for front line officers describing her ordeal and her dealings with police.
Now 22, the victim, known as Girl A, came into contact with police “hundreds of times” during her three year ordeal.
She claims that officers refused to take her claims seriously or failed to spot warnings signs that she was being abused.
In an interview with the Standard she said police were finally taking the issue of child grooming seriously but said the problem was probably worse now because of social media.
All uniform officers will be shown the video in which the girl highlights how she was ignored by police.
In an interview with the Standard she told how she was approached by the grooming gangs.
“I was in secondary school and deemed academically gifted in all the top sets.
“I was really a typical teenager. I started hanging out smoking and bunking off school. That’s how I first met them. They would invite me for drinks which was exciting for a girl my age and take my on trips in their cars. I was fed up and they wanted to cheer me up. They built up my trust over weeks and months. I really believed they were my friends.
“Then one day it happened. One minute it was OK and the next it had gone too far. They made me feel in debt to them, that I had to do everything they said. There was a clear change in their behaviour.
She describes how she had hundreds of contacts with police, often dropping the claims after she made them. A police video of one interview shows her as a skeletal figure. Now she says: “I looked like a heroin addict, it was horrible, it is very upsetting that someone could get to that stage and no-one did anything about it.”
She finally escaped the gangs and is now helping victims and a mother of two young chidlren. She says : “I have got on with my life, although what they did to me was awful I have not let them destroy me. I suppose that is my message to them.”