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Criminal Justice

Office of the Children’s Commissioner report effective practice for tackling CSE

The recently published report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England outlines the steps required to keep children safe from sexual exploitation and highlights examples of good practise, where children and young people are being protected.


If only someone had listened, authored by Sue Berelowitz, Jenny Clifton, Carlene Firmin MBE, Dr Sandra Gulyurtlu and Gareth Edwards, builds on a body of work initiated by Charlene Firmin MBE in 2010. Following an introductory report, Firmin and Race on the Agenda released Female Voice in Violence, a project supported by the Trust which brought to light the scale and intensity of gang-related violence against women and girls. The report outlined a number of suggestions which included strategic and operational planning at the local authority level for responding to the impact of gang related violence on women and girls. The Barrow Cadbury trust is now involved in a funding collaborative with a number of others following up on these findings.


The final report in a two year Inquiry into the nature and extent of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in England, If only someone had listened is preceded by a further five reports. The inquiry has found that 2,409 children were known to be victims of CSE by gangs and groups and an additional 16,500 were identified as being at risk. Many of these victims were let down by the agencies that were supposed to be protecting them.


Only  6 per cent of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) met the requirements set out by the government-issued statutory guidance on safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation whilst a third did not meet half of them.


In evaluating interventions in place and collecting evidence from children and young people, parents, carers, professionals and agencies, the report highlighted failings in responses to tackling CSE as well as examples of good practise.


The failings of agencies included ignoring children who are, or at risk of being victims, a lack of leadership amongst senior decision makers at the local level, denial about the realities of CSE and a failure to engage with children and young people. In keeping with the recommendations of Female Voice in Violence, a lack of strategic planning in some LSCBs with regard to CSE was a significant failing in tackling CSE. The researchers found that examples of effective practise included a focus on the child, evaluation and review, enduring relationships and support, effective information sharing, participation of children and young people, supervision, support and training of staff, and comprehensive problem-profiling.


These features of effective practise feed into the report’s See Me, Hear Me frame work which sets out the functions and processes required for a holistic response to response to CSE at a local level. It outlines the agencies, networks and stage-by-stage co-ordination required to facilitate effective practise and joined-up working. The report states that the system of working outlined in  the See Me, Hear Me framework, one that ensure that children are seen heard and made safe, should become standard practice to tackle child sexual exploitation.