How child abuse affects those investigating it

Published: 18 March 2022 at 13:00

Blue light on a police car

ARU experts are surveying police to find out how they cope with demands of job

Researchers have opened a survey, believed to be the first of its kind, to capture the thoughts and observations of police officers and staff working in the field of child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSAE).

The survey is being conducted by researchers at the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), and the University of Portsmouth, and is supported by Detective Chief Constable Ian Critchley, NPCC Lead for Child Protection and Abuse Investigations.

Figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) estimate that there are between 550,000 and 850,000 UK-based individuals posing varying degrees of sexual risk to children. Together, the NCA and UK policing arrest more than 1,000 child sex offenders and are safeguarding around 1,100 children each month. Thousands of officers and staff in teams across the Service are therefore dealing with extremely traumatic accounts of these types of crime.

The survey is open to any police officer or member of police staff who is regularly involved in CSAE investigations.  Through the survey, the researchers aim to gain a detailed insight into the mental health and wellbeing of these police staff and officers, and discover how they cope with the demands of the job.  This will help identify when and how staff health and wellbeing can be improved by greater awareness, early intervention, and formal and informal support.

Dr Theresa Redmond, a Senior Research Fellow within the Policing Institute for the Eastern Region (PIER) at ARU, said:

“We work to improve policing through applied research, and this survey is a key example of this.  

“We know that child sexual abuse and exploitation investigations are a major part of policing today, and whilst the impact on victims and witnesses is incomprehensible, the impact on those tasked with managing these investigations must also not be forgotten.

“This is the first national collection of such insight and will be key in enabling us to make informed recommendations on how we can protect those who protect the most vulnerable.”


For further information on the project, email Dr Theresa Redmond at theresa.redmond@aru.ac.uk, Professor Samantha Lundrigan at samantha.lundrigan@aru.ac.uk, or Professor Peter Lee at the University of Portsmouth, at peter.lee@port.ac.uk