ePetition details

Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

We the undersigned - summarise the effectiveness of all actions taken by the Council to address Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, since the Government appointed Commissioners left Rotherham; - identify the key actions planned to further address Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse for the next two years. Expected outcomes from these key actions should be identified.

This petition is submitted by adult survivors and victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse to understand what actions are planned to address child sexual exploitation and abuse in the next two years.

On reaching 20 signatures An officer will investigate the matter further

This ePetition ran from 19/12/2019 to 28/01/2020 and has now finished.

26 people signed this ePetition.

Council response

Thank you for submitting your petition which was presented to the Council meeting held on 22 January 2020 on behalf of adult survivors and victims of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Your petition called on the Council to summarise the effectiveness of all actions taken by the Council to address Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, since the Government appointed Commissioners left Rotherham, and to identify the key actions planned to further address Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse for the next two years, including a summary of expected outcomes from these key actions.

Your petition received more than 20 signatures which enabled “T” to present it to the meeting. Under the petition scheme, and by resolution of the Council on 22 January 2020, the relevant Strategic Director is required to respond and this letter serves as that formal response.

I would like to offer the below information which summarises all the key actions that have been undertaken, the impact of this activity, how the Council ensures there is effective governance, and any ongoing action still underway. Though your petition specifically refers to 2018 it might be helpful to give you a context of actions prior to that.

Positive action since 2014

Since August 2014 the Council has fundamentally changed the way it responds to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), investing heavily in services and partnerships which has seen the externally validated improvements and enables it to participate as a highly effective partner within Operation Stovewood:

• In 2014 an immediate package of support was put in place by the Council and other local agencies. This included funding to bolster the capacity of local support groups to help more women and their families (e.g. counselling services) and money to support community-based projects which reach out to help children and young people who may be at risk of abuse. This has continued to be reviewed at a Council and partnership level
• These were put in place in the short-term while research was undertaken to understand what services were needed in the longer-term.

Progress and action since 2016

The following overview highlights the long-term services that have been running since April 2016 - giving help to victims and survivors, providing practical, emotional support along with family therapy and counselling.

• Evolve – the multi-agency specialist team tackling child sexual exploitation was created in 2016 to safeguard children who are or likely to suffer harm through child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. They provide ‘wrap around’ support and protection to children and their family, with a team of people from a variety of support agencies. This includes social workers, a child sexual exploitation specialist nurse, a Barnardo’s worker, a Children’s Social Care operational manager, business support staff and police officers. This service works alongside mainstream children’s social work services in ensuring the care and protection of children involved in CSE.
• The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) provides a central point of contact for people to share safeguarding concerns and is a key point of engagement for the NCA with children’s services, police and health work together as part of the team. This has led to better information sharing between agencies - essential to help protect vulnerable children and young people.
• The Barnardo’s ReachOut Service supports children and young people in Rotherham who have been, or who are, at risk of being sexually exploited. The team engages with children, young people and families to raise awareness of spotting signs of sexual exploitation. They also work with community groups, schools, colleges and health services.
• The implementation of a new Taxi Licensing Policy has ensured a robust approach to safeguarding and has been identified as a national exemplar of good practice. The Council has participated in a number of national reviews by Government to sue the learning and good practice that now exists in Rotherham to influence the development of future legislation and policy.
• The proactive use of the Council’s housing stock to enable relocation and prevent homelessness often at short notice.
• The secondment of two adult social workers into the NCA as part of the Safeguarding Team.
• Following the presentation of the CSE Services Review December 2017 to the Improving Lives Select Commission in June 2018 a project team for recommissioning post abuse services was established including representatives from RMBC, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC), Health, Voluntary and Community Sector service providers (VCS), South Yorkshire Police (SYP), National Crime Agency (NCA). This group has ensured the commissioning of support services responds to survivors needs and feedback around future service provision and agreed funding for a further 2 years (until 2020)
• Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (RCCG) were successful in a bid to NHS Health and Justice for funding to develop a trauma and resilience service to support Stovewood victims and survivors through the justice system.
• Trauma and Resilience Service (TRS) Expert Reference Group established to support the implementation and development of the Trauma and Resilience Service, funded by Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (RCCG). The TRS Expert Reference Group includes representation from RCCG, RMBC, National Crime Agency (NCA) and Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). Funding is now in place until April 2023. The service provides a trauma informed approach and referral hub that includes representation and resources from the 3 RMBC commissioned VCS providers
• Trusted Relationships (2018); CYPS and Barnardo’s were successful in a partnership bid to the Home Office’s Trusted Relationship Fund that enables Barnardo’s to continue their 1:1 work with young people at risk of CSE and widen their remit to work with C&YP at risk of other forms of exploitation
• Early Help and Detached Youth work offer has ensured a focus on CSE and Exploitation within target communities and with targeted groups; supporting a focus on early identification and prevention.

Oversight and Governance

In relation to measuring the impact and success in how we tackle and prevent CSE there is a clear line of oversight around CSE and broader Child Exploitation work. This starts at an operational level, with weekly intelligence meetings ensuring oversight of disruption, and where needed preventative or protective action in relation to children at risk of CSE. This activity is the subject to monthly scrutiny by the Head of service and evidenced via a performance data set. Strategic oversight by the AD, DCS, CEX and Lead member for Children and Young Peoples Services is in place via the Performance Board. Partnership oversight is provided by the Child Exploitation delivery group which reports into the boarder strategic Rotherham Safeguarding Children Partnership. The RSCP 2019 -2022 Strategy to Tackle and Prevent Child Exploitation in Rotherham is the key document, which supports all partnership working and governance (see attached). The strategy has been reviewed and continues to have a clear focus on CSE, while also recognising the wider risks of exploitation; Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), Radicalisation, Modern slavery and Human Trafficking. The strategy was endorsed by the Council’s Cabinet in October 2019.

External Scrutiny

Children and Young People’s Services are subject to Ofsted’s ongoing inspection regime, as well as being regularly held to account publicly by through the Council’s scrutiny procedures by Members. Ofsted stated in their last inspection (2017) “Children at risk of child sexual exploitation are identified and receive an effective multi-agency response to protect them. Children considered to be at medium and high risk of abuse receive good-quality help and support from social workers in the Evolve service. This is a dedicated multi-agency team that provides specialist support to children at high and medium risk of exploitation. Intelligence meetings between co-located police and social care managers, and additional multi-agency risk management meetings, take place weekly. Information is shared on risks to individual children, which helps to identify patterns of behaviour of suspected perpetrators. This has resulted in convictions and successful prosecutions. The local authority is embedding the use of its child sexual exploitation risk assessment tool across all of its teams. The assessments seen by inspectors were of good quality and were being used to inform plans to protect children’

Ofsted also noted that, ‘Managers, leaders and partners are diligent in their ongoing efforts to expose both current and historic exploitation. This is seen in the number of successful prosecutions and ongoing court trials of perpetrators. Support to encourage children and young people who have suffered abuse helps them to feel safe enough to disclose their experiences and continues to develop. This includes services for those who are now adults. The stringent efforts of the local authority and partners to confront large-scale exploitation and abuse will continue to have its challenges, as victims continue to be identified.’

The full Ofsted report and subsequent Monitoring visits are available via the Ofsted website.

Ongoing Actions

The Council continues to prioritise its critical role in working with Partners to tackle and prevent CSE and support Operation Stovewood and has identified the following ongoing actions:

• Post-abuse (CSE) support service contracts are in place and will be commissioned to align with the delivery of the Trauma and Resilience service (confirmed until April 2023). The aim is to support victims and survivors in recognition of their experiences and the broader impact this can have on their lives.
• Rotherham Safeguarding Children Partnership continues to oversee the work plan linked to the Strategy to Tackle and Prevent Child Exploitation .The aim is to reduce the level of CSE experienced by young people in Rotherham, and to ensure that when a child is assessed to be at risk the perpetrators and pursued and the victim is supported and protected.
• A CYPS and Barnardo’s Trusted Relationship Fund is in place to support preventative education in schools and other settings, primarily delivering the healthy relationships education package ‘Real Love Rocks’. This supports the early identification and awareness raising around CSE.
• The Early Help Detached Youth Work and curriculum delivery continues to support targeted outreach to young people at risk, identified either via intelligence, communication across the partnership or safeguarding referrals.
• Barnardo’s and Evolve continue to provide direct Support to individual young people and their parents. The aim is to ensure there is safety planning in place and a network to support a reduction of harm related to CSE.
• To re-commission support services with partners in 2020, using the feedback from survivors and their support groups. The aim is to ensure the Council and Partners learn from the experience of victims and survivors and embed this in future service development and commissioning activity.

I can confirm that there will continue to be senior oversight of issues and themes arising related to Child Sexual Exploitation provided by the Leader of the Council and the Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services.

This response to your petition will be published on the Council’s website and therefore I am happy to confirm that the Council has published the summary requested in your petition.

Yours sincerely

Sally Hodges
Interim Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services