The Thematic Review started in December 2013. The review was led by Professor John Pinkerton, Queen’s University Belfast, who was assisted by a team of researchers from the university. It was also subject to independent scrutiny by an external panel of experts from child protection, law enforcement and academic backgrounds. In accordance with the direction, the review report identifies a number of themes, highlights a number of areas for improvement and makes a single recommendation. It acknowledges the work underway in connection with the Marshall Inquiry and should be read in conjunction with the Marshall Inquiry report and its recommendations.
The Thematic Review was undertaken by the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland under direction from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS). It was initiated by the DHSSPS to ensure that learning was identified in relation to a number of young people whose cases were subject to a police investigation into suspected child sexual exploitation. The police operation, known as operation owl, involved looked-after children and young people, reported to police by social services on the basis that they had gone missing from care, to determine whether further investigation by police was required.