Oxford child sex abuse unit funding pledge

A £1.1m specialist unit set up to tackle child sex abuse in Oxford will be funded for as long as it is needed, the county council has pledged.

The Kingfisher unit was set up in Cowley Road following Operation Bullfinch, an investigation into alleged child sex trafficking.

It was set up by police and the council to help agencies work together.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said the unit was doing "good work" to ensure the abuse "can't happen again".

He said the most important lesson to be learned from Operation Bullfinch was that agencies should talk to each other to get the "bigger picture" of what was going on.

'Not complacent'

"At the Kingfisher unit in the Cowley Road police station, social workers are sitting next to police officers," he said.

"They can build up a picture and take appropriate action."

The Kingfisher unit was formed in 2012 with joint funding of £500,000 from Thames Valley Police and £615,000 from Oxfordshire County Council.

It follows on from work Oxfordshire County Council and Thames Valley Police carried out together on the Bullfinch investigation, which began in spring 2011.

Det Ch Insp Joe Kidman from Thames Valley Police, who led the Operation Bullfinch investigation, said he was not "complacent".

"There will always be people who will be prepared to use whatever position they are in to exploit children, and therefore we are continuing to investigate," he said.

Oxfordshire County Council has said it is "deeply sorry" it was not able to stop the abuse sooner.

Since the revelation that up to 50 girls from the area were being trafficked, the council has employed more social workers and trained agency staff in child protection issues.

A serious case review will be carried out on all agencies and the results will be published and acted upon, the council has said.

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