Thursday, 23 May 2013

Oxford town ... Oxford town

One cannot help but feel a chill at the words of Anthony Stansfeld, a Conservative and the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, which includes Oxford.  

Concerning the Oxford sex abuse ring, he writes in a letter to the Guardian that the girls’ 
“… right(s) to go to town and be groomed, then abused and raped, seems to have been regarded as more important than (their) being safeguarded. Until this is sorted out it is difficult for social services to do their job properly. Social care for pre-age-of-consent children must be looked into and proper rules established that makes their safeguarding easier. Some progress has been made in this area, but not enough. Kindness and firmness are not incompatible.”

I hope that the Commissioner doesn’t mean that the correct response to the deplorable events in Oxford is to come down heavily on the victims! But that is certainly one possible interpretation of what he says. Taking away the rights and freedoms of young people in care and establishing more rules to curtail their liberty seems to me to be a recipe for encouraging more to run away and so fall prey to the likes of the men who so horribly exploited the girls in Oxford

And we should never forget that many of the girls' complaints about the abuse were ignored or disbelieved.

The focus of the police, and their commissioner, should be on bringing perpetrators to justice, which involves treating the complaints of victims with appropriate respect. The focus of ‘social services’ should be on engaging with and motivating young people by providing them with caring, constructive and supportive living environments.