On 1 June 2012 the LGA hosted an event to launch the LGA and Barnardo's joint good practice briefing on helping local authorities to develop effective responses to tackling child sexual exploitation.
The event was attended by a wide range of different stakeholders including lead members for Children services, Chairs of Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCBs), the Police, health professionals, the third sector and a representative from the Department for Education.
The event was introduced by Councillor David Simmonds, Chair of the Children and Young People Board at the LGA. He explained that the scale of this abuse has become increasingly clearer but that local authorities in partnership with other stakeholders can tackle this abuse by developing effective local responses, which will vary depending on the local area, needs and resources. To help local authorities do this the briefing sets out five key ingredients central to any effective action:
The first presentation was by James Tozer, Commander, Shropshire Territorial Unit, West Mercia Police. James was the head of Telford and Wrekin Territorial Policing Unit where he lead on the initial response and early stages of Operation CHALICE and developed a multi-agency response; he has since been working on a system for identifying potential Child Sexual Exploitation.
When he started working on this area he explained he was surprised by the lack of a positive presumption that the problem of child sexual exploitation exists. He said that although LSCBs are charged with trying to prevent and identify the problem, there are no models to assist local areas.
His approach centres on the complex abuse cycle which centres around the three stages of child sexual exploitation: Find, Groom, Abuse. Key to his success was also developing the necessary trust and understanding across stakeholders (for example health, councils, police) to share existing data collection (which only needs to be geographical in order to be useful) which indicates the three stages of abuse and as a result enable the police and LSCB to develop effective targeted approaches.
Councillor Maxi Martin, Lead member for Children Services at the London Borough of Merton and Councillor Campion-Smith, Lead member for Children Services at Bristol City Council then discussed the good practice going on in their local areas to develop local responses to child sexual exploitation.
Merton's response focuses on partnership working with clear responsibilities, awareness training in schools and a ‘Protect and Promote Young Person's Board' which has been operational for nine months and in this time has worked with 30 potential and actual victims of child sexual exploitation.
Bristol's response also included partnership working between the local authority, police and BASE (Barnardo's against sexual exploitation project). They have also picked up useful police intelligence information from de-briefs of missing children's interviews as well as setting up a Young person shadow safeguarding board to listen to the young people's voice and their concerns and experiences of the dangers.
To finish there was an interesting Q&A and discussion amongst delegates. A couple of key issues raised were:
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2 May 2013