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Serious Case Review published regarding Operation Fenestra

Added on 02 November 2017 at 11:01

Today (2/11) sees the publication of the Serious Case Review for Operation Fenestra, an investigation into the sexual exploitation of children in the Yeovil area between 2010 and 2014.

The review follows the conviction of two men in November last year for offences committed against six children aged 14 and 15 and a seventh victim aged 18.

Following a trial at Taunton Crown Court, Mehmet Citak, 34, was jailed for 20 years while Ahmet Kurtyemez, 29, was sentenced to 12 years.

The Somerset Safeguarding Children Board’s report seeks to identify how agencies can learn from the way the case was handled. The report can be found here.

The report identifies some shortcomings in the early stages of the police investigation including the level of multi-agency involvement but highlighted its successes once it was fully underway.

In particular, it praised how officers consulted and learned from colleagues who worked on Operation Brooke in Bristol – another major Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) investigation which led to thirteen offenders jailed for a total of 116 years.

The report underlines our commitment to supporting the victims both in terms of taking the time to develop their trust and confidence and in ensuring an appropriate exit strategy was in place following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings so victims weren’t left suddenly without support.

It also highlights the steps we’ve since taken to improve the identification, prevention and response to CSE as part of a closer multi-agency way of working.

Recent developments include:

  • In April 2015, the West of England CSE Victim Identification and Support Service was established. Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioners of Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire and the Home Office, the two year project was designed to provide effective support to victims and training to professionals to better identify and understand CSE.
  • In January this year the force oversaw the creation of Bristol based Operation Topaz – a more joined-up partnership approach to tackle CSE in the city which sees agencies share intelligence to maximise disruption of offenders, investigative response and support victims. We hope the model can soon be adopted across the force.
  • In October this year, Barnardo’s Against Sexual Exploitation began offering a new service supporting young people and children affected by CSE. The £1.5 million service was commissioned by the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner and the area’s five local authorities.

Detective Superintendent Will White, Head of Crimes Against Children, said: “Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to all the victims in this case. They’ve displayed the utmost bravery and courage throughout our investigation and the proceeding trial, as well as their participation in the Serious Case Review.

“The courage of these victims has ensured our communities will now be protected from these dangerous offenders and has helped improve how CSE is tackled. I hope they are now able to move on with their lives.

“We have come a long way since Operation Fenestra first started in 2012 in developing our understanding of CSE, safeguarding victims and disrupting and apprehending those who perpetrate it.

“The SCR recognises the lessons we learnt from Operation Brooke and how we sought to implement this learning in our approach to the exploitation that was happening in Yeovil.

“The report’s authors are right to highlight the tenacity and determination of the officers involved in Operation Fenestra to earn the trust of the victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“Without their commitment, it is unlikely the victims would have been as willing to disclose the abuse they received which would likely have seen the offenders get away with their crimes and left them free to further abuse others.

“All our staff and officers involved in tackling CSE regularly receive training to spot the tell-tale signs of exploitation and abuse to safeguard children and the latest HMIC report published in March rated us as Good at protecting those who are vulnerable from harm.

“We also regularly run high profile innovative awareness campaigns to encourage reporting and to increase confidence among the public we will take them seriously. Just this week, three short films produced by CSE victims as part of the West of England service were screened at Bristol’s Watershed cinema. The films, which used poets to deliver the experiences of CSE victims, aim to increase awareness and prevent the same thing happening to other children.

“We’re now much better at spotting the links, joining up the intelligence and, alongside our partners, seeing a fuller picture, but we’re by no means complacent. Serious case reviews such as these are enormously valuable and we’ll continue to learn as long as there’s more we can do to put a halt to exploitation.”

If you suspect a child or young person may be at risk, or have any information relating to child sexual exploitation, please contact us. We would prefer to speak to you on the phone (by calling us on 101) or in person. However, if contacting us online is the safest way for you to get in touch, you can complete our secure online reporting form.

If you don’t want to speak to the police, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information can be left anonymously.

Important: If you know or suspect a child or young person is in immediate danger, you should dial 999 straight away.

NSPCC

The NSPCC provide a wide range of services for both children, young people and adults, including national helplines staffed by trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help and advice.

0800 1111 (ChildLine)
0808 800 5000 (Support for parents and carers).

Barnardo’s

Children’s charity Barnardo’s support children, young people and families affected by issues such as sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.

BASE (Barnardo's Against Sexual Exploitation) is a Barnardo’s project in Bristol which supports victims of child sexual exploitation across Avon and Somerset.

CEOP safety centre

Over half of sexual exploitation happens online. If someone has acted inappropriately online towards you, a child or young person, or someone you know, find out what to do, and how to report it to police, by visiting the CEOP safety centre.

 

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