Independent review into child sexual exploitation in Buckinghamshire

  |  Published: Apr 7th 2017

A report from an independent review into child sexual exploitation in Buckinghamshire has found good practice and strong partnership working in place to tackle sexual exploitation, as well as some areas where working can be further strengthened.

The review was commissioned by Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board to learn the lessons from the past and further improve the protection of children and young people today. It has 14 formal recommendations highlighting areas which can be strengthened both locally and nationally. These include:

  • The development of a broader awareness strategy to engage with all local communities within Buckinghamshire on child sexual exploitation, so that children, parents, professionals and the wider public can spot the warning signs;
  • ensuring there is an appropriate, effective and coordinated response available to victims of child sexual exploitation as they become adults;
  • finding ways to ensure that more effective information-sharing takes place between all the partners in Buckinghamshire;
  • HM Government should consider introducing a national central database of all licensed drivers, indicating whether any had been subject to any regulatory sanctions.

Fran Gosling-Thomas, Chair of Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board, welcomed the publication of the report. She said: “The Board proactively commissioned this review because we wanted to confirm that the right processes, support and expertise are in place in Buckinghamshire to tackle child sexual exploitation in all its forms, and to understand what areas of work need to be looked at more closely.

“We also wanted to ensure that the full spectrum of past cases was examined back to 1998, so in carrying out the review a very wide range of activities was undertaken by the review panel.

“We know that in the past agencies were not providing the help and support that young people needed, and we now know that this shortfall in support also existed within other local authorities. Crucially though, the review shows that work carried out in Buckinghamshire to combat exploitation now is effective, and multi-agency working has really embedded in the last three years. The review has identified some areas of work where we can improve and we have formulated a detailed action plan to ensure the learning from the review is followed through. Work is already progressing towards implementing these recommendations.

“I would like to thank the young people and adults who talked with us for this review so that their voices could be heard, and I commend their courage and bravery in re-living the distressing experiences of the past.

“The Board and its partners will do everything in their power to prevent exploitation in all its forms and protect all children and young people in Buckinghamshire, both now and into the future. One of the key activities is increasing awareness of the warning signs with the public and working with our schools to help educate children and young people about healthy relationships. Another very important element of our work is helping children and young people increase their understanding and resilience so that they can better protect themselves; this aspect is particularly important as some young people do not recognise that they are being exploited.”

The serious case review can be viewed at:
http://www.bucks-lscb.org.uk/serious-case-review/serious-case-review-into-child-sexual-exploitation-in-buckinghamshire-1998-2016/

To see the work happening in Buckinghamshire to stop sexual exploitation of children go to http://www.bucks-lscb.org.uk/

If you are concerned about a young person you should contact the First Response Team (Children’s Social Care) on 0845 460 0001 or email: 
secure-cypfirstresponse@buckscc.gcsx.gov.uk

If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger call 999. Alternatively contact your local police on 101 who will have a dedicated team you can talk to about child sexual exploitation.

Good practice in Buckinghamshire 

Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board has developed a strategy for tackling child sexual exploitation. The strategy and associated action plan were published in January 2016. The strategy is Buckinghamshire–wide and covers children and adults, victims and perpetrators. It aims to draw attention to the relevance of child sexual exploitation to a much wider range of services, not just those that are working with young people.

Multi-agency training on child sexual exploitation is available for all professionals working in Buckinghamshire. The Board doubled the number of courses from three to six in 2016 in order to meet increased demand, and has worked with individual agencies to ensure their staff have access to appropriate training.

Strong partnership working

Since 2013 there has been a clear re-focus on joint working, with agencies coming together to work much more effectively in partnership. The importance of joint working across Buckinghamshire partner agencies and strong improvement in achieving this has been recognised in the serious case review.

Working directly with young people

Since 2014, Board partners have supported the delivery of two waves of the drama production ‘Chelsea’s Choice’ in all secondary schools across the county.

Chelsea’s Choice is an interactive play that tells the story of a group of three students who discover the diary of a girl called Chelsea, a young girl who, having fallen out with her friends and family, was groomed and then sexually exploited. Chelsea’s story is played out and examined by the three students who, along with their teacher, attempt to understand what happened to Chelsea and how it could have been prevented.

Partners have covered the cost of the play so that this has been free for schools. To date, thousands of local pupils in years 8 – 10 have been able to see the production and as a result, have greater awareness of the signs of sexual exploitation and the impact it has on young people. A specialist CSE worker has attended each session to provide follow-up group discussions with pupils. There have been at least three disclosures directly related to young people seeing the production in Buckinghamshire. The Board will be delivering Chelsea’s Choice again to Buckinghamshire schools in Autumn 2017.

What needs to be improved

The review has found that stronger engagement around exploitation is needed with all local communities in Buckinghamshire and has recommended that a strategy is developed to achieve this, including engagement with perpetrators and their families.

Information sharing needs to be improved to ensure that anyone working with children knows when and how to report any concerns they have around child sexual exploitation. This will help ensure those who are at risk of, or who have been victims of, sexual exploitation receive support as early as possible.

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