Oxfordshire council’s award-winning sexual exploitation project has been heralded as a method that can “drive improvements elsewhere” by the crime prevention minister.
The authority’s Kingfisher project brings together police, council and health services to work together to combat child sexual exploitation (CSE). It was this year praised in an Ofsted report for providing a ‘high quality’ service.
The project was set up following Operation Bullfinch, a police investigation that exposed shocking crimes committed by a gang of men who targeted and sexually abused vulnerable children.
“The Kingfisher project offers encouraging evidence that local agencies can and will make the necessary changes to ensure they meet their safeguarding responsibilities,” said crime prevention minister Norman Baker.
The team behind the project identify and support victims and children at risk, while also investigating suspected cases of CSE.
Baker cited the recent case in Rotherham, where 1,400 children were found to have suffered sexual abuse, and emphasised the importance of learning lessons. He said the Kingfisher project – which has been recognised for two national awards this year – offers “encouraging evidence that local agencies can and will make the necessary changes to ensure they meet their safeguarding responsibilities”.
He said it had made “great strides in transforming the standard of child protection services in Oxfordshire” from 2012.
“The methods of this project can help drive improvements elsewhere in the country at this important moment in the battle to eradicate child sexual exploitation,” he added.