Robust approach to safeguarding youngsters in response to failings

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A robust and resilient approach to tackling Child Sexual exploitation and child abuse in Calderdale is now in place, according to the Calderdale Safeguarding Board.

Stuart Smith, Calderdale Council’s Director for Adults and Children’s Services, explained that the Council has maintained a matrix of children they are concerned about and issues are flagged up if someone reports any concerns.

This has resulted in children being removed out of the borough.

“We have moved some people out of the borough where we have thought they have been at high risk to prevent them becoming involved in anything like this. I have authorised four or five people out of the borough when we have been that concerned and they are groomed and you think they might participate or support perpetrators of the crime.

“With their parental consent, we have moved them out of the borough. Sometimes three or six months is enough because you have to break the link with the people that are grooming them.

“It’s an entirely different world now because we are much better organised than what we were then and more importantly we are much better organised the them - people who would be perpetrators.

“In addition the different agencies in our partnership are really good at understanding grooming, right from a very early stage.

“You start off training professionals and social workers but now we have trained people who run B&Bs, hotels and taxi drivers. Our network of people who know what these signs are has made anybody who wants to perpetrate this crime and groom a child massively difficult.

“The things that happened to Jeanette couldn’t transpire again, some one could try but the evidence and information would come to so many professionals’ attention quickly that we would be all over the child in terms of securing them and the police would be all over the perpetrator in terms of stopping it.”

The “Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan” which is led by the safeguarding children board is in place. This plan includes objectives designed to: Identify locations and individuals or groups who sexually exploit.

Inform, engage, empower and protect children, young people, families and communities from being at risk or experiencing sexual exploitation by understanding the nature and impact of sexual exploitation.

Prevent children and young people experiencing or continuing to experience sexual exploitation.

Provide appropriate support, protection, intervention, information and services to children, young people, parents, carers, friends and communities.

Divert, disrupt and actively pursue those individuals and groups intent on exploiting children and young people.

Successfully prosecute those who perpetrate or facilitate the exploitation of children & young people.

Richard Burrows, Independent chair of the Calderdale Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Changes to joint working arrangements between the Council, NHS, Police and others, for protecting vulnerable children from CSE, meant that the review found that current practice is much improved.

“The arrangements for protecting vulnerable children are now as they should be and partners continue to respond to what victims and young people are telling them.

“This is not to say that there is any room for complacency and we will continue to learn and improve.

“There is a comprehensive action plan that is already being implemented and the Board will hold partners to account for performance and progress.”