SUSSEX Police chief superintendent Lisa Bell said no one was more frustrated than officers that offenders behind more than a decade of racial abuse towards the Deghayes family were not brought to justice.

Responding to the serious case review published yesterday into the deaths of Abdullah and Jaffah Deghayes, teenage boys from Saltdean killed in the bloody Syrian civil wear, Brighton and Hove's top cop said it was “horrendous” for the family but the fact that Sussex Police gave such a substantial response over a prolonged length of time was testament to how seriously they took tackling hate crime.

Mrs Bell said the investigations were plagued by evidential difficulties including accounts from members of the Deghayes family differing “from time to time” and the encouragement by father Abubaker to his children to exaggerate incidents.

She said there were similar evidential difficulties in bringing criminal charges against Abdullah despite contact with police “several times a day” and reports of serious assaults.

She cited issues of identification, reluctance of victims and witnesses to come forward and possible victim intimidation.

The Brighton and Hove city commander said the question of how the teens were radicalised remained the most frustrating aspect of the investigation.

She said the force understood the role social media played in brainwashing young people and said it was vital the authorities got to grips with the issue.

She said the force was “very proactive”  in not criminalising young people but added it was important for the force to learn that “some criminal, risky behaviour” are indicators of early trauma or vulnerabilities.

She added there were issues that prevented some cultures from fully engaging with the police but progress was being made with even very small pieces of information being brought to police attention in a way some communities had not done previously.

"We have learnt many lessons"

RADICALISATION and the possibility of children travelling to Syria to fight was an unknown quantity for professionals operating in 2012 and 2013, Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Geoff Raw said yesterday.

But staff learnt very quickly from the disappearance of Jaffar and Abdullah Deghayes and the authority has stopped two children from travelling to fight since, including one just six months later with the use of a ward of court order.

Mr Raw said the council’s response to radicalisation and other child exploitation was “much improved” since 2014.

The council boss added it was important for public institutions to gain the trust of all communities with acts of solidarity in the wake of terrorist attacks.

He said it is all about building trust and encouraging the sharing of information.

Pinaki Ghoshal, director for families, children and learning, said a decision to remove the five Deghayes children from a protection plan in 2012 was not about resources but because of a lack of understanding of adolescent neglect where they were viewed as “perpetrators of violence” and not as victims.

The council’s youth offending service in 2012 was undergoing a “chaotic period” and was deemed “too soft” by the police.

Since then it has undergone a major overhaul.

Mr Ghoshal said council staff had difficulty engaging with the family, especially father Abubaker, and the council had learned from the process, in particular the use of only male social workers with the family’s mother Inas Abulsayen which would not happen now.

Council praised for "openess"

REVIEW co-author Edi Carmi said it was “extremely worrying” that the Deghayes’ mother Inas Abulsayen even now is not reporting every incident of racism she faced because she didn’t think it would not be dealt with.

The independent safeguarding consultant led the first review into the death of Baby P and also carried out a church child abuse review in response to the jailing of former Chichester Cathedral head steward Terence Banks.

She said in reality the threat of children going abroad to fight in foreign wars was not on the minds of anyone in Brighton and Hove, or elsewhere in the country, before it happened.

Ms Carmi said dropping the serious case review protocol of anonymity to protect identities as far as possible was never considered despite the high profile nature of the Deghayes family whose identity would have been known to many in Brighton and Hove and beyond.

She praised the council for its “openness and self reflection”, saying bosses had already identified areas where mistakes had been.

No blame for lack of arrests of abuse

BRIGHTON and Hove Muslim Forum chairman Tariq Jung said he did not blame police for failing to successfully prosecute anyone for the prolonged racist abuse of the Deghayes.

But he said he understood how the physical and verbal abuse would have made the Deghayes’ boys feel as it was something he himself had endured when first coming to the UK 45 years ago.

Mr Jung said some in the Muslim community did not report all incidents they were subjected to because they were facing so much abuse and felt tion.

He said the current situation was “very sad”  and he would be looking to set up an easy way to help report something quickly without being identified.

Fiona Sharp, of One Voice, said she did not believe the revelations in the report about the extent of racist abuse would damage the city’s reputation for tolerance.

She said the challenge now was for communities to work together to stamp out abuse and send a message that Brighton and Hove was a liberal city.