Agenda item

CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION THEMATIC REVIEW 2021

The Chief Executive will submit a report (Document “S”)on the CSE Thematic Review which was commissioned in 2019 by the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, subsequently replaced by the Bradford Partnership – Working Together to Safeguard Children. The three statutory partners of the Partnership are the Council, Police and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and also a number of key agencies, designated as “relevant agencies” are also members. It has an independent chair and scrutineer- Jane Booth.

 

The review was commissioned in accordance with governmental guidance in force at the time and focuses on the response of the agencies in Bradford to Child Sexual Exploitation. Five specific cases formed the basis of the review, two non-recent cases of CSE which have already been in the public domain and the media and three more recent cases.  The review also includes a review of three more recent cases.  It was led by an independent author Clare Hyde MBE.  The review looks in detail at the experiences of five children.  It spans a 20-year period from 2001 through a range of political administrations and officers.  No individuals are named- the report focuses on children and learning.

 

The review was published on the 27th of July 2021

 

Recommended -

 

(1)       The Executive is invited to note the report

 

(2)       That Executive receive a full report in November on current work in relation to   exploitation of both children and adults and that this includes details of work in relation to the CSE actions in the Thematic review.

 

(3)       The Council commit to working closely with partners to deliver on      the actions within the developmental action plan and progressing     the extensive wider work presently on going in Bradford

 

 

(Children’s Services Overview &Scrutiny Committee)

 

(Darren Minton – 01274 434361)

Minutes:

The Chief Executive submitted a report (Document “S”)on the CSE Thematic Review which was commissioned in 2019 by the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, subsequently replaced by the Bradford Partnership – Working Together to Safeguard Children. The three statutory partners of the Partnership were the Council, Police and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and also a number of key agencies, designated as “relevant agencies” were also members. It had an independent chair and scrutineer- Jane Booth.

 

The review was commissioned in accordance with governmental guidance in force at the time and focused on the response of the agencies in Bradford to Child Sexual Exploitation. Five specific cases formed the basis of the review, two non-recent cases of CSE which had already been in the public domain and the media and three more recent cases.  The review also included a review of three more recent cases.  It was led by an independent author Clare Hyde MBE.  The review looked in detail at the experiences of five children.  It spanned a 20-year period from 2001 through a range of political administrations and officers.  No individuals were named- the report focused on children and learning.

 

The review was published on the 27th of July 2021.  The Chair of the Bradford Partnership noted that the report had been relatively well received.  She added that the report reflected back over years of practice and that despite many positives identified such as Bradford establishing a multi-agency hub early and partnership working, the whole country was on a learning curve regarding CSE.  The report highlighted the damage done to individuals.  The report was framed according to  national guidelines with the purpose of identifying if there were still things to learn.

 

The Strategic Director Bradford District and Craven Clinical commissioning Group noted that the Health Service had a crucial role in safeguarding individuals from CSE, providing training so that staff could recognise the signs of CSE.  He stressed the importance of all agencies working together in strong partnerships to address issues regarding CSE.

 

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services noted the distressing nature of the report.  He emphasised that the multi-agency response to CSE would identify and keep children safe and that perpetrators would be brought to justice.  He stressed the strength in partnership working.

 

The Leader referred to the shocking crimes perpetrated against young people and how their lives had been damaged.  She noted that victims were both male and female and across ethnicities.  She stressed the need to ensure that vulnerable children were protected.

 

The Children and Families Portfolio Holder referred to the horrendous nature of the crimes that preyed on young people and demonstrated the worst aspects of human behaviour.  She noted that perpetrators came from all classes and cultures and that focusing on one area left another avenue open to abusers.  She asked the partnership whether everything was being focussed on and identifying potential avenues for abuse to take place.

 

The Chair of the Bradford Partnership responded that the vast majority of children had adverse childhood experiences and those children had been less able to recover from their experience. The partnership had identified the need to strengthen relationships with schools.  Children who were not in school did not have peer group support and relationships making them more vulnerable to exploitation.  It was noted that learning resources would be available in schools by the end of September.  The importance of looking out into the community was stressed with everybody being the eyes and ears to look out for signs of CSE.  She referred in particular to the night time economy and a police intelligence phone app that could be used to report any concerns.  It was noted that more disruption was being seen and more work was being undertaken to identify children at risk.  She stressed the importance of reporting anything that did not look right such as a child being with someone they should not be with, a child missing from home, a child drinking or using drugs, a child being secretive or having a phone that you did not know of.

 

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services urged anyone with urgent safeguarding concerns to ring 999 or to report concerns to the Front Door where a range of help would be available and  would involve police, health service, education and social care.  He urged everyone that if in doubt to report. 

 

The Education, Employment and Skills Portfolio Holder stressed the need to strengthen links with schools and ensure that sufficient places were available in  schools, particularly for SEND, and noted that investment had been made in this area. He added that there was a need to reassure parents that if they reported concerns they would not lose their child or become a suspect themselves and that support would be provided for them and their children.

 

The Director of Children’s Services noted that the Executive had increased the resources for those children not in education, missing from school or those being educated from home to ensure that resources were sufficient.  Work was being undertaken to provide early support for parents to keep children at home.

 

The Leader asked about ensuring that the lessons learned were embedded.  The Chair of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board responded that there was no quick fix and that with the massive staff turnover and staff shortages there was a risk that organisational memory would be lost, so material was being developed that could be discussed at a team level and included in the staff induction pack. She added that ticking a box in the action plan was not sufficient and stressed that there was also a need to ask if the action had achieved what was intended.

 

Chief Inspector Dan Greenwood noted that the report was sobering reading and referred to the improvement journey that the police had been on while stressing that they were not complacent.  He added that training and induction issues had been recognised for new and existing staff.  He noted the significant difference in dealing with CSE today compared to 10 or 20 years ago.  He added that if a child goes missing this is highlighted straight away and resources prioritised to ensure that the child is kept safe.

 

The Community Safety Portfolio Holder noted that the Community Safety Partnership was focusing on protecting people from exploitation.

 

The Leader asked about data sharing between agencies.  In response it was noted that agencies were co-located at the front door and while the computer systems were not fully integrated information was shared routinely and systems were robust.

 

The Children and Families Portfolio Holder asked for a reassurance regarding therapy for victims of CSE.  In response it was noted that therapy was approached form a trauma informed prospective with a number of interventions being provided. In hospital accident and emergency departments if there was any suspicion of CSE this would be highlighted and trauma informed interventions initiated.  In schools it was vital to look at early help and early prevention so that children could access support with Health Champions being vital in providing a safe space for children.

 

The Leader referred to adults coming forward to report historic cases CSE and stressed that their cases would be investigated and the perpetrators held responsible for their crimes.

 

The Chair of the Bradford Partnership noted that a case would shortly be coming to trial which was a demonstration of good multi-agency working to take dangerous perpetrators off the streets and that more cases like this would be coming forward which should be seen as a positive outcome rather than in a negative light.

 

A member of the opposition group noted the abhorrent nature of the crimes and stressed the need to support victims.  She added that as a Council basic mistakes had been made and warning sighs such as children missing from home had been missed.  She noted that this was a work in progress and that fundamental basics had to be in place.  She referred to support for victims and was pleased to note that adult social care was a route for supporting victims throughout their lives.  She asked whether the contact details for the front door were easily accessible and whether it was a messaging service or someone to speak to.  The Strategic Director of Children’s Services responded that details of how to contact the front door were on the Council website and that he would ensure that they were prominent and he confirmed that there was someone to speak to and that there was also an out of hours service.  She asked whether there was any benefit in having integrated IT across the partnership and was advised that this issue could not be resolved locally but that having staff co-located was the best arrangement unless a decision was made nationally to have integrated IT.

 

Resolved -

 

(1)       That the report be noted

 

(2)       That Executive receive a full report in November on current work in relation to  exploitation of both children and adults and that this includes details of work in relation to the CSE actions in the Thematic review.

 

(3)       The Council commit to working closely with partners to deliver on      the actions within the developmental action plan and progressing     the extensive wider work presently on going in Bradford

 

 

Children’s Services Overview &Scrutiny Committee

ACTION: Chief Executive

Supporting documents: