Scale of child sexual exploitation in West Midlands unveiled for the first time

Nearly 500 children identified as at risk of child sexual exploitation, or suffering from it, in the first six months of 2014

Photo: jeffsmallwood/Flickr Creative Commons

Almost 500 children were sexually exploited, or at risk of sexual exploitation, in the West Midlands at the start of 2014, a report has found.

Published today, the joint analysis from West Midlands police, local authorities and Barnardo’s discovered 488 children or young people were identified as having been sexually exploited, or at risk of abuse, in the first six months of 2014.

A third of the children identified were in care, while a quarter of those living at home had been in care at some point.

Community Care Live 2015

Tackling child sexual exploitation will be a hot topic at Community Care Live in May.

Sessions include how social workers can achieve successful outcomes and protect girls and young women involved in gangs.

Awareness day

Victims frequently went missing, the report found, and were identified as being trafficked to areas such as London, Greater Manchester and North Wales to be abused by multiple men.

This is the first time that the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation (CSE) across the West Midlands has been assessed, according to Stephen Rimmer, regional strategic lead on preventing violence against vulnerable people.

He said that, since the snapshot, “we have launched an awareness raising campaign to inform young people, parents and communities and we have engaged directly with front line staff – teachers, GPs, taxi drivers and many others”.

It was published to coincide with CSE awareness day and follows a report from the communities and local government committee, which called for Ofsted to re-inspect local authorities to look specifically at CSE.

Latest report into Rotherham CSE

Published yesterday, the committee’s report on Rotherham criticised the watchdog for “adopting an approach relying too much on appearance and paperwork rather than examining whether policies to protect children were working on the ground”.

It said Ofsted’s inspections, up to 2012, were too short and narrowly focused. Clive Betts, committee chair, said Ofsted’s past shortcomings leave serious concerns that organised CSE in other authorities may have been missed.

“Ofsted’s credibility is now on the line,” he said. “It says its new inspection arrangements will pick up CSE. Ofsted now needs to re-inspect all local authorities in England at the earliest opportunity to ensure councils have identified and are tackling CSE.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We welcome the report and the committee’s recognition that the changes we have made since 2012 strengthen our ability to uncover where children are at risk.

“We know we didn’t get it right historically in Rotherham and have apologised for those mistakes.”

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