Labour deputy leadership candidate Tom Watson has called for a new national police agency to investigate child abuse.
Speaking to the Birmingham Post, the Black Country MP said he believed abusers might be going unpunished because forces were failing to share information.
He said: “The police privately tell me that they think they would be more effective if specialists from different forces could be put together in a team to look at child abuse from a national perspective.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Watson, MP for West Bromwich East and a former minister in governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, also said:
He joined the Labour Party aged 15 when his mum bought him party membership as a birthday present
He was “deeply upset” at the abuse aimed at party leadership candidate Liz Kendall on social media
He believes people who have worked and paid taxes should receive higher benefits if they become unemployed
People from working class backgrounds sometimes can’t even afford to try to be selected as a Labour candidate, never mind fight a General Election
Councillors need better training and support and access to the party leadership
Mr Watson is hoping to become Labour’s deputy leader after Harriet Harman, who is currently doing the job, announced she would resign when a new leader is elected in September.
Along with the four leadership candidates, he will take part in a hustings event in Birmingham on June 27.
The MP led a successful campaign for an inquiry into historic allegations of child abuse which led to the government announcing an inquiry in 2014.
But he said there needed to be a national police agency to take charge of child abuse investigations.
Mr Watson said: “What we found is a lot of intelligence has not been shared between different police services.
“But the police privately tell me they think they would be more effective if specialists from different forces could be put together in a team to look at child abuse from a national perspective.”
My mum bought me party membership for my birthday
Mr Watson was a Labour activist from a young age, growing up in Kidderminster as the son of “very idealistic” parents.
He said: “In 1979, I remember being at Sladen School in Kidderminster and I was the Labour candidate in the school mock General Election.”
“There was an anarchist that stood because of course we had punk rock in those days. I won but the anarchist did quite well.”
He added: “I joined the Labour party as early as I could, on my 15th birthday. In those days, the minimum age of membership was 15 and it was actually a birthday present off my mum. I have been in the Labour Party ever since, so 33 years.”
We must reform welfare
Mr Watson said he wanted to see Labour restore the principle between paying into the welfare system and getting something out - and end the notion payments such as Jobseeker's Allowance were an “entitlement”.
This was how William Beveridge, who produced a 1942 report proposing a welfare system, had expected it to work, Mr Watson said.
“Public legitimacy is very important when it comes to the social security system.
“Beveridge had this idea it would be a contribution-based system and there would be some reference to the contributions you make into your entitlement if you fell on hard times.
“And now I think people just see it as an entitlement system. You have got to make sure the system is seen to be fair.”
He added: "If people have been paying in for 20 years it’s not unreasonable to say they get a little bit more."
I'm "deeply upset" at abuse aimed at Liz Kendall
The MP said he wanted every opinion within the party to be respected, adding he was concerned about some of the abuse aimed at leadership candidate Liz Kendall who is sometimes portrayed as relatively right-wing compared to the other candidates.
He said: “In this debate I worry the leadership debate is already getting tetchy and personalised. I have been deeply upset to see the abuse that Liz Kendall is getting on social media, for example.
“Political parties need to retain an intellectual curiosity which means you need to have ideas.”
Watch: Tom Watson's official campaign video
It's too hard to become an MP if you're not wealthy
Mr Watson warned simply being a Labour candidate could now be a full time job and even trying to get selected could involve weeks of campaigning which many working people could not afford to do.
He was proposing potential MPs received a grant or bursary to ensure people from all walks of life could be candidates.
“Standing for selection in the Labour Party takes a lot of time now. It can take anything between 12 to 16 weeks to choose a candidate," he said.
“Some people take time off work and do it full time, they knock on doors full time.
“If you are on a minimum wage job or holding down a job where you have got to pay a mortgage and are looking after a couple of kids, you can’t take that time off work.”
Labour must value councillors more
Labour’s local councillors would be more valued if he became deputy leader, Mr Watson said, and along with MPs they would find it easier to speak to the leadership team.
“Councillors need to be given more training, they need to be briefed better, they need to be involved in decision-making earlier.”
And he warned it had become very difficult even for MPs to speak to party leaders.
“If you want to talk to a party leader now there are about three different gate keepers; you need an appointment a month in advance; someone will want to find out every agenda item you want to discuss.”
We can't elect a leader for just three years
Mr Watson said he disagreed with calls for the next party leader to be elected for only three years so they can be removed if they appear to be failing, saying this would undermine them from their first day in the job.
But he added: “Having said that, I’m pretty certain all four candidates for leadership will be self-aware enough that, if it’s not working because of their personal leadership, they are not going to hang around I suspect.”