Shropshire’s commitment to keep children safe from harm
Shropshire’s Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) has launched a new dedicated website as part of its ongoing commitment to keep Shropshire children and young people safe from harm.
The website provides information on the work of the SSCB and its activities, and provides parents, carers, children and professionals with a whole host of information, including local safeguarding procedures and guidance and a raft of resources and useful links.
The website also provides information on how to report concerns you may have about a child who may be at risk. A key priority of SSCB is the early identification and prevention of child sexual exploitation, and one of the main developments over last two years has been the launch of its Child Sexual Exploitation Strategy.
The Child Sexual Exploitation Strategy has already resulted in identifying a variety of safeguarding measures to be put in place to disrupt the activity of perpetrators by utilising council child protection measures and the powers of police and education colleagues. Such measures prevent perpetrators having contact with the victim and provide support to the child and their family.
Sally Halls, SSCB Independent Chair, said:
‘’Since Shropshire’s Child Sexual Exploitation Strategy has been in place we have seen an increase in awareness and early identification of child sexual exploitation. The Children’s Commissioner’s report into Child Sexual Exploitation in November 2012 identified links between those children who regularly go missing and the risk of sexual exploitation. We will continue our multi-agency working with social care, police and education colleagues to disrupt perpetrators, implement the Joint Working Protocol for Missing Children, alongside our Child Sexual Exploitation Strategy, and support the needs of vulnerable young people.”
Ann Hartley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children’s services – transformation and safeguarding, said:
“Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility and it is vital that members of our communities are aware of the signs of neglect and abuse such as child exploitation. We want to make it easier for people to recognise these signs and know where they can report any concerns.
“Shropshire’s Safeguarding Children Board new website enables people to do this, whilst also providing a great deal of information in an easy to navigate and accessible format. This is really important for young people and children as it provides them with lots of information and signposts them to organisations that can offer guidance, advice and support.”
The SSCB, through its partner agencies, will be extending the preventative work that is taking place in various settings for young people to raise awareness within local communities across Shropshire and will begin to work with hotels, nightclubs, public transport and shopping centres to further protect children from exploitation.
For further information on child sexual exploitation, other safeguarding issues and what to do if you have concerns about a child then please visit www.safeguardingshropshireschildren.org.uk
Anyone who has concerns about the welfare of a child should contact the Concerns Line on 0345 678 9021.
SSCB is made up of a range of agencies including the council, health and police, and has a statutory duty to develop local safeguarding policy and procedures, and to ensure the effectiveness of agencies arrangements to safeguard and protect the welfare of children and young people. The following organisations are represented on the board itself, with many more contributing to the work of its sub-groups:
- Shropshire Council
- Shropshire Clinical Commissionning Group, hospitals, and other health services
- West Mercia Probation Service
- West Mercia Police
- CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service)
- Youth Offending Service
- Oldbury Wells School in Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, and John Wilkinson Primary School in Broseley.
The board has developed new strategies, support and guidance for people working with children, on neglect, suicide prevention and child sexual exploitation. It has also updated the Missing from Home and Care Protocol in collaboration with other boards and the police, and provided a varied range of training opportunities.
The key priorities for 2012-2015 set out in the SSCB report are to focus on the following areas:
- Missing children, including those who are sexually exploited and/or trafficked
- The effects on children of domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and parental mental ill health
The Child Sexual Exploitation multi-agency panel meet monthly to discuss cases, and ensures that a range of agencies work together to provide support for children at risk of sexual exploitation and their families, gather intelligence, disrupt and prosecute perpetrators.
Sexual exploitation can take many forms, from the seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship
where sex is exchanged for attention, affection, accommodation or gifts, to serious organised crime and child trafficking. Any child or young person, from any background, may be at risk of sexual exploitation. This includes boys and young men as well as girls and young women. There is no common profile of a perpetrator of this type of child abuse; both men and women, from all cultural backgrounds have been found to sexually exploit children and young people.
Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology, and the level of risk is heightened for young people who regularly go missing.