In the Media

Police 'want access to sexual health data' in battle against grooming gangs

PUBLISHED June 4, 2012

Officers in Manchester are said to believe that information from screening databases can help stop gangs such as those which preyed on girls in Rochdale and Derby.

However they will have to convince doctors who are concerned about patient confidentiality as well as the fear that it could deter young people from being tested.

Police say the anonymised data could allow them identify where the gangs are operating, The Independent reported.

They believe young teenage victims of the gangs are made to get tested regularly by the gangs to ensure they are "clean".

Officers say that access to the sexual health databases - currently open only to doctors - would help spot geographical spikes in tests, indicating the potential presence of a gang in an area and prompting an investigation.

Talks are under way over access to a city-wide chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening database for the under-25s.

It details the date of each test and what was screened for as well as the are they are from, as well as ethnicity.

One officer involved in the talks told the Independent: "There are opportunities for us to intervene more effectively and quickly if we have all the information.

"There are [legal] structures in which that information cam be exchanged, assessed and acted upon which will not breach the law.

"If we build confidence among health professionals, it would be a huge step forward."