Councillor Clark attended the meeting to present a report on post-CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) support that had been carried out by a sub-group of the Improving Lives Select Commission.
The sub-group had consisted of Councillors Victoria Cusworth, Councillor Maggi Clark and Councillor Jenny Andrews. It was noted that during the period of the review that Councillor Cusworth had been Chair of the Improving Lives Select Commission. Councillor Cusworth, who had been a member of the sub-group was in attendance at the meeting for this item to support Councillor Clark answer member questions about the review and its recommendations.
In introducing the report Councillor Clark thanked all of those who had been involved in the review including officers, officers and elected members at the other local authorities that the sub-group had spoken to and the representatives of the providers of the commissioned services that they had met with.
Councillor Clark emphasised that the purpose of the review had been to gain assurance on the services that were in place in Rotherham to support survivors of CSE rather than the historical or current issues of CSE in Rotherham and the Council’s response to CSE in the Borough.
Councillor Clark detailed the circumstances and context that that had led to the formation of the sub-group to scrutinise post-CSE support in Rotherham.
The report noted that in summer 2016 the Council had commissioned support services for young people and adults who had experienced child sexual exploitation, with these additional services acting to supplement the core support offer that was available to any adult who had ongoing support needs provided by the Council through its Adult Safeguarding provision. It was noted that the contracted arrangements had ran from 1 July 2016 to 31 March 2019 with an option to extend for a further two years, with the contract being extended until 31 December 2020.
The report stated that to inform the imminent re-commissioning of services, members of the Improving Lives Select Commission had conducted a short benchmarking exercise during August 2019 on the services provided by other local authorities to support survivors of CSE. The results of this exercise had subsequently been fed into the development of a needs analysis that had been used to underpin the anticipated re-commissioning process. Councillor Clark advised that because of circumstances beyond the Council’s control the commissioning process had been delayed and that due to the extension to timescales, members of the sub-group agreed that further work should be undertaken to enhances its review and to gain further assurance about the level of support offered to survivors of CSE in Rotherham. Councillor Clark noted that it had been resolved at the meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission held on 3 March 2020 that the benchmarking work should be resumed, with the results detailed in standalone scrutiny report on post-CSE support and the delivery of commissioned support services.
Councillor Clark advised that in conducting the review that the sub-group had met with senior officers, officers and elected members at other local authorities who were responsible for managing post-CSE support as well as the providers of the commissioned services in Rotherham. Councillor Clark advised that this work had enabled the sub-group to establish a sound understanding of the services that were being delivered in Rotherham to support survivors of CSE and how these compared to services provided elsewhere. Councillor Clark noted that prior to the review that they had not felt that they were fully informed about the level of support that was provided to survivors in Rotherham.
Members took the opportunity to ask Councillors Clark and Cusworth several questions regarding scope of the review, the methods of research used and on the recommendations that had been made. Members sought particular assurance that the “voice of the survivor” had been considered throughout the review. Councillors Clark and Cusworth assured members that from the discussions that had been held with the providers of the commissioned services, who had extensive experience of working with survivors that the “voice of the survivor” that they had utilised their professional skills and expertise to access and to learn from the voices of survivors.
The Vice-Chair thanked Councillors Cusworth and Clark for presenting the report to members and for their hard work in conducting the extensive member led scrutiny review.
1) That the report be noted, and the following recommendations be submitted to OSMB and Cabinet for approval: -
a) That post-CSE services are transferred to the Adult Social Care, Housing and Public Health directorate to enable the greater integration and coordination of support pathways that are available to adult victims of trauma as children.
b) That further work is undertaken with relevant partners and survivors to improve the ways in which survivors’ voices are captured to inform future reviews of post-abuse services (for example drawing on the research from Sheffield Hallam University, the development of voice and influence groups or other survivor’s forums).
c) That consideration is given to appropriate governance arrangements to enable elected members to provide a steer on the activity that is taking place within the Borough to stop CSE/CCE and support survivors. d) That the Improving Lives Select Commission continue to monitor the provision of post-abuse support to survivors of CSE.
d) In relation to recommendations c) and d), that consideration is given how survivors’ voices to inform these processes.
e) To emphasise the shared responsibility of all elected members, that an annual training event/workshop is delivered. This is to ensure that all elected members are kept up to date with the activity within the Borough to protect young people from being at risk of harm from CSE/CCE and support adult survivors to move forwards in their lives.
f) That the relevant Strategic Directors explore options for sharing best practice with other local authorities in the Yorkshire and Humber Region.
g) Drawing on the good practice from Durham County Council, that consideration is given is given to the language used in the provision of post-CSE support to ensure that it is positive and inclusive of the needs of those accessing services.
2) That the response of Cabinet to the recommendations be reported back to Council within two calendar months of its submission.