The Hydrant Programme
The Hydrant Programme’s strategic objectives are to:
- Improve the police service response to the safeguarding of children and investigation of child sexual abuse.
- Work to increase victim, survivor and public confidence in the police approach.
- Develop best practice advice and be a hub for specialist knowledge and expertise.
- Provide a learning, review and support capability that meets the needs of senior police leaders and investigators.
- Collaborate with other policing programs to enhance the support to forces, partners and stakeholders within the area of vulnerability.
- Maintain effective liaison with strategic partners and key stakeholders.
- Coordinate the receipt of safeguarding referrals and reports of crime on behalf of police forces in the UK where this adds value.
- Coordinate the police service response to IICSA recommendations.
- Provide a national analysis capability for child sexual abuse and other areas of vulnerability. Collaborate with other policing programmes and partners to develop a wider understanding of scale and threat.
- The Hydrant Programme works with UK forces, along with partners and stakeholders across the vulnerability sector to ensure a coordinated policing response to child sexual abuse and exploitation.
Operation Hydrant established in June 2014 to deliver the national policing response, oversight, and coordination of non-recent child sexual abuse investigations concerning persons of public prominence, or in relation to those offences which took place within institutional settings.
Operation Hydrant was set up when it became apparent that forces around the country were investigating a significant number of non-recent allegations of child sexual abuse involving persons of public prominence or within institutions. There was a risk that investigators were looking at the same individuals and institutions and it was also clear that officers dealing with these complex cases required support and guidance.
Operation Hydrant was informed by individual forces of investigations meeting the criteria, and then coordinated the information among forces to prevent duplication. This was called deconfliction. This function will not continue under the Hydrant Programme structure, as new systems and processes have been introduced (supported by the work of Operation Hydrant) which now deliver the operational coordination and deconfliction function routinely across policing. Operation Hydrant did not carry out individual investigations – this was done by the force locally to the investigation, or the force with allocated primacy for investigation in the case of allegations straddling two or more police forces.
Hydrant is the interface between the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and all police forces in the UK. The Inquiry will publish its final report later this year. The Hydrant Programme will coordinate the policing response to any recommendations made.
Statistics relating to Operation Hydrant were previously produced every quarter, as part of a quarterly FOI publication scheme. These statistics provide a national picture on non-recent child sexual abuse cases under the Hydrant remit - involving persons of public prominence or within an institution – and includes the number of victims, suspects and institutions on the Hydrant database and are now archived. The Hydrant Programme remains committed to a policy of transparency and accountability, and a refreshed FOI Publication Strategy is being developed.