Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 11°C


Ipswich: Police prostitution strategy ‘could have stopped grooming rings’

09:34 09 July 2014

Alan Caton after he received his Officer of the British Empire (OBE) medal following an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Alan Caton after he received his Officer of the British Empire (OBE) medal following an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The unique approach of police in Ipswich and Suffolk to prostitution could have prevented widespread child grooming in the county similar to that which took place in Rochdale and Oxford.

That was the assessment of a former senior police officer at a conference which looked at the success of Suffolk Constabulary’s strategy for dealing with prostitution.

Alan Caton OBE, who was the police lead for the strategy when it began, said that its emphasis on prevention, particularly among young people, could have stopped the development of organised child grooming rings.

“Going back to 2006 when we wrote prevention into the strategy, it was long before some of these cases,” he said.

“So we were actually targeting and identifying vulnerable young people back in 2006 whereas in the last three or four years you’ve had really significant cases across the country.”

The Ipswich and Suffolk Joint Agency Strategy was implemented in the wake of the murder of five prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006.

It focused on clamping down on kerb-crawlers while the Make A Change multi-agency team offers women routes out of the trade and tries to prevent young vulnerable girls from becoming involved.

The Make A Change team will now be placed within Suffolk County Council’s Children and Young People’s Services to focus even more on prevention.

Mr Caton said the police didn’t know in 2006 how many youngsters were at risk of grooming in Suffolk.

However since 2007 there have been 279 referrals of children between the age of eight and 18 to the Make A Change team, including five boys in the last 12 months.

When asked if the prostitution strategy could have prevented child grooming gangs from operating in Suffolk, Mr Caton said: “I think it could have done. There have been a number of positive cases, we’ve had cases where men have gone to court and have been convicted of trafficking, certainly in my time.

“So I think the agencies have been working together to identify these, there’s been a lot of training of frontline practitioners, in policing, in care services, in social care to identify the signs that children may be being exploited.

“Are they going missing? Are they associating with older men? Are they coming back with gifts that they can’t explain? All these things are triggers if you like to give a frontline practitioner (reason to say): ‘I think I need to refer that because this child may be at harm’.

“So it’s really important that we continue that work so it doesn’t just stop, it’s ongoing all the time.”


  • Can't even get the title of what an OBE is Right ! Where do IpswichStar get their journalists ?

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

  • "Could have". In other words, "we've got no evidence it DID, but we're going to make the claim anyway".

    Report this comment


    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Volunteer teachers are working to transform the lives of migrants and refugees in the most deprived areas of Ipswich as part of a newly established charity.

There is slow traffic on the A12 in Suffolk this afternoon because of a broken down vehicle.

With a love for cuddles and having their tummies tickled it seems unlikely these furry friends could be evil omens or harbingers of doom.

How well do you really know Ipswich?

A former angling club secretary appeared in court yesterday charged with dishonestly abusing his position to make personal financial gains of more than £10,000.

Lucky groups of youngsters are being treated to an adventure up the River Orwell and Stour estuaries - learning about the wildlife on Suffolk’s coastlines on board a sailing boat.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust today launches an ambitious £1million public appeal as part of a land purchase plan that is on a scale “unprecedented” in the nature charity’s long history.

Motorists in Suffolk are being warned to watch out for traffic delays as three abnormal loads slowly make their way along the county’s roads over the next two weeks.

One of the most popular and successful fundraising events in Suffolk has been officially launched.

The shops in Ipswich town centre are stocked up with witches outfits and trick or treat supplies, and supermarkets are doing a roaring trade in pumpkins as Halloween fast approaches.

Most read

Most commented


Show Job Lists

Topic pages


Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24