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At the date of the report most but not all victims had been interviewed and 214 criminal offences had been formally recorded across 28 police force areas.It is not just the scale of this offending that is disturbing.Equally concerning is that whilst the NSPCC Helpline was contacted by some people who had previously reported their concerns and wished to alert the authorities, the majority of victims had never spoken about their experiences to those authorities until now.

Attitudes, policies and practices have changed, fundamentally and for the better."But that should not tempt us to ignore the clear conclusions of Ms. Without jettisoning the progress already made, a clear line now needs to be drawn in the sand and we need to redouble our efforts to improve the criminal justice response to sexual offending.

The number of cases being brought to court has increased; the conviction rates for sexual offending have improved - the conviction rate for rape is at a record high - and more defendants are pleading guilty, which is usually a good indicator that the cases being presented are well-prepared and strong.

Yet, despite all this, events over the last 12 months raise fundamental questions about the way in which we investigate and prosecute sexual offences, particularly those involving children.

And it is clear from the other child sexual exploitation cases that have been brought since the Rochdale case, and from the work of journalists such as Andrew Norfolk at , that the number of victims at risk may be considerably higher than previously thought.

Second, an overcautious approach has, on occasion, been adopted.