Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 17°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

Bea the cat is recovering well

A cat has been found collapsed on an Ipswich doorstep 10 days after suffering serious neck injuries caused by its own collar.

Crown Pools in Ipswich, where a man reportedly exposed himself on Saturday.

A man has reportedly twice exposed himself to girls in the changing rooms of an Ipswich swimming pool.

Police are investigating the robbery.

A man was assaulted and threatened during a robbery in Ipswich on Saturday night.

Heart FM DJ Dave Taylor during the charity busking session on the Cornhill in Ipswich where he was accompanied by his producer Nick mellamphy and students from Ipswich High School for Girls.

Heart FM breakfast DJ Dave Taylor took on a charity challenge with a difference this afternoon – learning to busk classic songs with the help of high school students.

Police have cordoned off an alleyway between Blanche Street and Christchurch Street in Ipswich after a man was stabbed.

Police are hunting for three men after a man was stabbed in the chest in Ipswich last night.

Abellio Greater Anglia

Trains running between Essex and Suffolk and the capital face delays, alterations and cancellations due to a defective piece of track at Harold Wood.

The crash happened on the A14 westbound between Stowmarket and Woolpit.

Motorists have escaped injury during two crashes on the A14 today.

Dan Poulter with employees at B&Q

A Suffolk MP has said he will do what he can to try and prevent a B&Q store closing down with the potential loss of around 100 jobs.

Julian King and Ian Lea talk about custom bikes at the Copdock Motorcycle Show.

There was something for all motorcycle enthusiasts at Trinity Park over the weekend as a popular event returned for its 24th year.

Urban caterer chef, Simon Daniels cooking the goumet burger at K Bar and Grill, St Nicholas Street, Ipswich.

We all love a good burger, so we’ve picked out some of our favourites from across Suffolk.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages