by Professor David Wilson, Centre for Applied Criminology, Birmingham City University

The news today that the Children’s Commissioner believes that 85 per cent of child sexual abuse is “missed” will sadly come as no surprise to academics working at the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University.

Some 2½ years ago in July 2013, Professor Elizabeth Yardley – Director of the Centre – reflected on these issues in the aftermath of the Daniel Pelka case. Daniel was a 4 year old Coventry boy whose mother and stepfather were convicted of his murder following a lengthy trial in which the court heard how he was systematically starved and beaten before his death in March 2012. In her blog, “The denial of child abuse and neglect – my thoughts in the aftermath of the Daniel Pelka case, Elizabeth talked about NSPCC figures, which estimated that for every one child subject to a child protection plan or on a register, there are eight others who have suffered maltreatment. She highlighted the relevance of denial – a key criminological concept, in explaining this tip of the iceberg.

This is just the latest example of how cutting edge criminological research undertaken at the University often leads the news agenda several months later.

Two other recent and diverse examples illustrate this point.

In January 2014, criminologists working at the Centre published the first ever research into contract killing in Britain.  They discovered that there were four different types of hitmen: novices; dilettantes; journeymen; and masters.   Almost 18 months later, the news of the death – as a result of a “targeted attack” – of Paul Massey in Manchester brought this research back into the spotlight.

Also, the Centre’s research about “Heath Care Serial Killers”, which gained widespread publicity in late 2014, was used to make sense of the murders committed by Victorino Chua at Stepping Hospital when he was convicted in May 2015.

Copies of the research mentioned can be obtained from the Centre’s website.

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