Agenda item

Child Sexual Exploitation Update


The Head of Children’s Social Care introduced the report which provided an update on the Children’s Social Care Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan and on actions in response to the Ofsted Thematic Inspection – ‘The Sexual Exploitation of Children: it couldn’t happen here, could it?’. In introducing the report he explained that ‘Stranger Danger’ had recently been provided in addition to Child Sexual Exploitation Champion training.


Councillor Kerin asked whether a dedicated Senior Social Worker had been recruited yet, to which the Head of Children’s Social Care advised that he hoped someone would be in post by the end of the month.


Councillor Ojetola asked for clarification as to how ‘missing’ was defined. In response officers explained that unauthorised absences did not constitute as missing, however any regular patterns of unauthorised absence of missing education were fed into the Child Sexual Exploitation Panel.


Councillor Halden raised concerns that that the Serious Case Review had highlighted that the case was closed prematurely, Social Workers wrongly believed that the young person could not be seen without her mother, and certain procedures were not followed. He questioned whether there was a problem with training individuals or if further professional development was required.


In response the Head of Children’s Social Care highlighted that the Ofsted thematic review was not Thurrock specific but assured Members that medium and high risk cases were discussed regularly at strategy meetings to ensure that all concerned were satisfied the level of risk was being addressed.


Councillor Halden expressed his confidence in the senior management team in satisfactorily addressing and identifying the level of risk, but was concerned how this was being put into practice by staff at all levels on a 24/7 basis. The Head of Children’s Social Care explained that Thurrock was working with both Essex County Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to undertake a review of cases from the past 5 years, and further advised that a specialist Child Sexual Exploitation Coordinator would shortly be appointed and a programme of Child Sexual Exploitation Champion training was underway.


Rev Barlow questioned whether all recommendations from the Ofsted thematic inspection had been adopted by Thurrock, to which it was confirmed that the recommendations had been adopted and were having the required impact. The Head of Children’s Social Care explained that a further report could be brought back to the Committee in the new municipal year to update Members as to the progress.


The Committee were advised that a sample of cases were regularly identified through the casework system so that managers could monitor that all appropriate actions were on track, which would be an ongoing process through the work of the Coordinator. Members were advised that if any action was overdue it would show as a red.


Councillor Curtis asked whether schools in Thurrock were engaged with the Child Sexual Exploitation process, to which it was explained that officers were not complacent and were engaging with all schools. It was reported that every school was represented at the last Sexual Exploitation training session and that schools were working well with the local authority.


Councillor Morris-Cook asked how Child Sexual Exploitation comfortable the service was that children and young people educated at home were not at risk and questioned how issues could be reported in these circumstances.  The Director of Children’s Services explained that this was a difficult area as by law the Local Authority had no specific right to be made aware of children educated at home because parents did not have to register as home educators; however a visit by an officer of the Council was offered to all home educators. It was reported that the offer of visits were often taken up and these visits could identify any potential issues.


The Head of Children’s Social Care further advised that potential Child Sexual Exploitation cases could be identified in many other ways outside of the school setting, for example through GP’s.


Mrs Wilson questioned whether officers were working effectively with schools, and felt that there had been instances in the past where engagement had been one sided, with the local authority not adequately responding to teachers requests. The Committee were assured that this was a two way process and that through the Early Offer of Help and Troubled Families programme, where an officer was based in schools, the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and the Head teachers Group and Senior Management Team visits to schools there was a strong link, but that it was important schools did challenge the local authority.


Councillor Morris-Cook asked the Head of Children’s Social Care and the Director of Children’s Services what worried to them. In response the Head of Children’s Social Care felt that the authority could improve the identifications target and the Director of Children’s Services was worried about the cases that they did not know about, and recognised that it was important to be continually proactive.




1.            That progress against the Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan be noted.


The Head of Children’s Social Care felt that the presentation of the action plan could be improved in future so that the Committee could better monitor progress, to which Members agreed that the format could be changed however the Chair advised that she was keen to maintain the ‘RAG’ Status rating.


The Chair advised that she proposed to bring forward ‘Item 9, Multi-Agency Serious Case Review’ on the agenda, following which the remaining items would be taken in the order printed. Members were in agreement.

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