First police super complaint lodged on behalf of sexual abuse victims within Black and minoritised communities

The first ever super-complaint detailing the systemic failures of Black and minoritised sexual abuse cases by police forces across England and Wales was launched by Halo Project and its umbrella organisation, the Tees Valley Inclusion Project.

A super complaint is a complaint made by a state-approved complainant or watchdog organisation on behalf of the public about harmful patterns or trends in policing. The system aims to provide an avenue that allows organisations, including charities like the Halo Project, to raise issues on behalf of the public about patterns or trends that could undermine legitimacy and support for policing. A policing super complaint may also demonstrate that any feature, or combination of features, of policing in England and Wales appears to be significantly harming the interests of the public or local community.

As one of 16 super complaints bodies in the country and one of only two designated Black and minoritised super-complaints bodies within those 16, the Halo Project presented the super complaint, titled: “Invisible Survivors – The Long Wait For Justice,” on which the charity has been collecting evidence and data for several years.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) assessed the report as being eligible for consideration and investigation, and the report is available to read at

The super-complaint provides unequivocal evidence and victim accounts of how the failings severely damage the effectiveness of police investigations of sexual abuse affecting Black and minoritised complainants and have materially dented community confidence in the Police’s commitment to properly investigating serious allegations of sexual abuse.

It sheds light on the tens of thousands of victims and survivors who are failed each year by the police, which is further compounded by the lack of professional support, exacerbating an already broken system. The report contains case studies, victim experiences, expert witness statements, academic research, and the experiences of specialist Black and minoritised staff working in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector across England and Wales, collectively highlighting specific barriers for reporting sexual abuse within Black and minoritised communities.

Yasmin Khan, CEO of Halo Project said: “For all the victims who have suffered in silence and those who have helped shaped this report, we have listened. This report provides unequivocal evidence which highlights failings of investigations of Police services in England and Wales. The Halo Project believes, and advocates justice is a human right for everyone, and we therefore look forward to the implementation of recommendations from this report.”

The super-complaint was also supported by Nazir Afzal OBE, a Former Chief Prosecutor for England and Wales, who said: “In my experience of three decades in justice I have seen first-hand how victims of sexual abuse have been let down by everyone responsible for safeguarding them and if you’re minoritised then your experience is significantly worse. Tens of thousands have suffered in silence without the support they desperately need. The super-complaint is critical in enabling victims to have greater confidence that police will respond appropriately every time, and nobody is left behind. Failing to take advantage of this opportunity is not an option.”

Shaista Gohir OBE, Co-Chair of Muslim Women’s Network UK, who provided case studies for the report, added: “I am pleased that some of the cases in our report, Muslim Women’s Experiences of the Criminal Justice System, have been included in the Super Complaint.  We continue to receive cases on our Muslim Women’s Network Helpline where victims are not reporting sexual abuse and exploitation because they do not have the confidence or trust in their local police force. If these justice gaps are not closed, it will mean perpetrators will continue not being held accountable, which may embolden them to carry on inflicting abuse, resulting in even more victims.”

The Halo Project is committed to driving forward positive change as part of the police super-complaint and have provided key recommendations for this improvement. The charity is also prepared to work with police forces to generate change and create a safer environment for both Black and minoritised communities and the public at large.

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