Agenda item

A Review of the Response to Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham

-           Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services to report.


Councillor Lakin, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families Services, introduced the report and invited Stephen Ashley, Independent Chair of the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board, to report on the findings and recommendations of the review undertaken into the response to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham.


The report, published in January, 2014, provided a balanced and accurate picture of how Child Sexual Exploitation was being tackled in Rotherham and acknowledged that in the past Rotherham could and should have done more to protect children. 


The review concluded that the findings were, in the main, positive, but it did highlight areas that needed further work reflecting that this was a dynamic and fast changing area of safeguarding children for all of the organisations involved.  There was clear evidence that Child Sexual Exploitation was a high priority which was reflected in its status at senior strategic meetings and at Cabinet level.  There was a clear strategy to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation with an associated action plan based on national best practice.  There had also been a significant financial commitment to a multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation team which was staffed with committed and hardworking staff undertaking good work and making a difference.


From the review it was highlighted that there needed to be a dedicated senior manager for the Child Sexual Exploitation Team and would provide focus to this work, that there needed to be thresholds in place and greater clarity for the role and remit of the Child Sexual Exploitation Team and it would be more advantageous to moving this Team to a more suitable location with closer links with the Integrated Youth Support Services.


With regards to the Child Sexual Exploitation sub-Group it was suggested that this would benefit from a review of membership and terms of reference to ensure it remained strategic and that some of the various multi-agency partnership forums needed to be revised.


The review, therefore, made three recommendations:-


-               The role and structure of the Child Sexual Exploitation Team and the Child Sexual Exploitation delivery plan should be reviewed as part of an ongoing process for future strategic development.  In particular, consideration should be given to the structure, location and long term aims and objectives of the Team to ensure clarity of purpose and adequate and appropriate resourcing.


-               The performance management and governance structures around Child Sexual Exploitation management required greater clarity.  A mapping exercise of current structures, together with a more proactive and intrusive performance management regime, should be considered by all agencies and in particular Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board.


-               Future planning should be communicated to both victims and professionals so that there was no doubt about the seriousness with which Child Sexual Exploitation was taken.  Professionals should be provided with the tools to ensure they were able to support victims in an appropriate and timely manner


The findings and recommendations would require further exploration by the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board and partners in relation to any cost, risks and benefits of their implementation and were more about “tidying up” structures and processes that were already in place.


The review provided an objective view of Child Sexual Exploitation activities and highlighted areas for further development work across the Safeguarding Children Partnership.  The Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board and Council Committees would have a continued role in giving oversight and challenge to agencies to ensure that the improvements were delivered and children and young people were safeguarded.


Cabinet Members welcomed this report and were fully supportive of its content, which had also received recognition with the recent South Yorkshire launch of the “See Something, Say Something” campaign to encourage people to come forward with concerns or suspicions about the sexual exploitation of children.


Resolved:-  That the report be received.

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