So first….a confession. When this campaign started, I/we didn’t really know what the law was going to look like. I knew something awful had happened to me. I knew that a year of my life had been stolen from me, and the consequences of being sexually groomed ran deep and troubling in ways that changed my life forever. It cost me more than I’m willing to state here.
But piece by piece it’s become alarmingly clear that there is little protection from adult grooming, that some laws are not properly enforced, and some key parts of the law and legal system that need reform. The system is very broken.
As a volunteer organisation with no income, CAAGe doesn’t have the resources to pay for legal advice and support, although we’re slowly building a list of contacts that may be useful to people.
However, here’s a summary of some of things we’ve done, are doing, or have been throwing our support behind.
We are undertaking what we hope will gather pace and become one of the biggest ever surveys into adult grooming.
So little research work has been done on adult grooming that we feel we need some solid information and statistics to back our case, our direction and which campaigns we back. If you have been groomed, PLEASE share that experience (anonymously) with us.
Contribute your experience to our survey: HERE
Support for police reforms
A recent report, State of Policing The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales, by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary 2018 , raised some issues that we are very concerned about:
- “The current 43 force structure act as barriers to the exchange of intelligence, to co-operation, and to true efficiency and effectiveness.”
- “The police funding arrangements are flawed ” (43 regions create barriers to justice)
- “The wider criminal justice system is dysfunctional and defective”
- “There is a particular tension between the clamour for ‘old-style’ policing and the reality of modern crime, most of which takes place outside the public’s view.”
Obviously CAAGe doesn’t have the resources to challenge police for reforms, but on the basis of the experiences of victims of grooming, we are happy to add our voices to others’ campaigns.
Additionally, we have adopted the stance that while we wholeheartedly support the police:
- it should not require a police complaint before accusations of sexual abuse are taken seriously;
- we need a trustworthy police force, and police officers must be held to higher account than the rest of us, not lower. Action against offending officers must be swift and efficient to see justice served, ensure that victims can trust officers, and to prevent the sullying of the good name of the majority of officers;
- grooming is often undertaken by people in authority. The police are no exception, and victims need protecting from wrongdoing;
- police officers badly need training in social media/digital technologies to be able to understand and deal with online crimes, or crimes that extend online;
- believing victims and avoiding ‘victim blaming’ are essential if people are to see justice;
- unfettered police access to victims’ phones needs taking seriously;
- counselling notes should not be allowed in court (I didn’t think they were. I believed it was a protected conversation, like doctors and priests, but it seems this isn’t so.)
Petition to stop counselling notes of rape survivors being taken to court: sign here
Support for Justice Reforms
It’s pretty clear that the justice system needs reforms. Getting justice is expensive and there is very little aid available. My own ‘going nowhere’ case after my abuser threatened me with civil action for naming him (for harassment)was expensive, pointless, unjust and unfair.
And when even the Law Society acknowledges this, we have to take it seriously.
Sign the Law Society Petition: Fix the broken Criminal Justice System: https://lawsociety.e-activist.com/page/38338/petition/1
Campaign to make catfishing illegal
Catfishing is a very specific form of grooming, and an easily provable deceit because the perpetrator has hidden behind a false name/identity/ pictures.
Founder Anna Rowe reached out to us in the early days of the campaign and extended her petition to include adult grooming, very specifically adult sexual grooming.
We helped her to get her tally of signatures to over 50 thousand – and the petition is still running.
Sign this petition for legal change with regard to catfishing here: Creating fake online profiles for sex is fraud. Make Catfishing a crime!
Addressing Legal Students
CAAGe was delighted to have been invited to co-present information about grooming and the consequences of online (sexual) harms to legal students in Canterbury.
If you would like CAAGe to address your students, please contact us: CONTACT CAAGe
Collating International Examples of Grooming Related Laws
We’ve been seeking international examples of countries dealing with grooming legally. As soon as this has any volume worth talking about, we’ll collate results into one place.
Several are being researched at present, but the first was South Africa, because as a country it seemed to acknowledge, and be dealing with, adult grooming.
These are only opinion, and should not be taken as a definitive legal situation. They’ve been collated on the basis of publicly available information and with no professional legal input.
Online Harms White Paper
CAAGe submitted a considered response to the Online Harms white paper consultation that ended on July 1, 2019.
You can see the CAAGe response here: Online Harms White Paper Response
Charities feel that individuals should be able to sue the online platforms after abuse. Whilst their focus may be children, we believe it should be extended to adults: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/01/social-media-abuse-victims-must-have-legal-right-sue-tech-giants/
Opposing PIN notices
Too many people (myself included) have received PINs when we have ‘whistleblown’ our groomers.
We had a lot of help from, and have been keen to support the work of, Arrest the PIN.
Last month, The College of Policing called a halt on the use of PINs, an act that was long overdue.
In the meantime we:
- Published advice;
- Created draft letters;
- Helped individuals write appeal letters, successfully.
It’s a space we will be watching with interest and supporting any further action taken by Arrest the PIN. Personally I’m hoping we will be able able to get these awful ‘judge and jury’ notices removed from records, or at least earn the right to respond and challenge.
Rape by Deception
Rape by Deception, an existing law, could easily applied to protect victims of sexual grooming, but (in my opinion) poor summary judgements have rendered the law virtually useless and discriminatory to the transgender community.
We are aware of a potential imminent legal challenge, which we will support, and will continue both to search for good examples of application in other countries and to find resources for any further legal challenge if required.
CAAGe is actively looking to create a network of legal partners across the UK to brief on grooming, to help with legal aspects of the cases we help with, to check out our understanding of laws, and to recommend to people in need of support.
Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA)
SEA are campaigning for legal changes/concessions for those affected by domestic abuse.
We have not been an active part of the campaign but are seeking to support them in whatever ways we can, largely by cheerleading.
See the SEA legal campaigning to influence policy: HERE