Five councillors will monitor Kirklees’ response to dealing with child sexual exploitation.
The cross-party panel will work with council officers and partner organisations toimprove the local response to child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Councillors on the panel are Clr Jean Calvert, Cabinet Member with statutory responsibility for children and children’s services, Clr Paul Kane (Labour), Clr Lisa Holmes (Conservative), Clr Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem) and Clr Karen Allison (Green and Valley Independents).
It comes after the Full Council united to call on the government to alter membership arrangements for the Kirklees Safeguarding Children’s Board, which does not permit councillors to be members.
Councillors argue that they would be expected to take full responsibility for any failings of the Board, but they’re not allowed full membership on it and can only attend as a participating observer.
Clr Jean Calvert, also the council’s deputy leader, said: “After the report into CSE in Rotherham was published, councillors felt strongly that it would be very helpful to take an in-depth look at the local picture.
“In Kirklees the number of notified CSE cases to date is relatively small and we know that local agencies take a joint, strategic approach but this is a fast-moving area of work.
“Our approach to CSE is constantly evolving and it’s essential that we all work together to gain a deeper understanding of an issue with great complexities.
“The new panel shows that all political groups in Kirklees are committed to tackling CSE. We take our responsibilities extremely seriously and our aim is to keep children and young people as safe as possible.”
Police, health services, schools, Barnardo’s and council services such as social care, learning, licensing and youth support, are working on the issue.
Numbers can vary from day to day but in September there were 22 young people potentially at risk of CSE and a further 45 were being monitored so if the risk to them increased their cases could be escalated.
The new panel will meet in private due to the confidentiality of much its work but, where appropriate it will report back in public to give updates on progress and emerging issues.
Anyone who has concerns about child sexual exploitation, or any other form of child abuse, should contact the police on 101; the Kirklees Duty and Assessment on 01924 326097 or Emergency Duty: (out of office hours) 01484 414933.