Kirklees scrutiny idea to assess if child sexual exploitation procedures are working is put on hold

Published February 11, 2015 by JS2

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And it comes three working days after the idea to listen to victims was put forward

Plans to assess if Kirklees Council procedures on dealing with child sexual exploitation are working have been put on hold.

And the delay comes just three working days after the idea was agreed that would see those affected approached to gauge views.

The Overview and Scrutiny Panel for Development and Environment, chaired by Clr Nigel Patrick, was tasked with scrutiny of the subject and on Thursday the panel decided to speak to people affected by child sexual exploitation (CSE).

They felt approaching a support group would be the best way forward to find out if everything the council was doing was needed by victims.

But at today’s Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee – including all chairs of all Scrutiny Panels – a re-think was ordered.

Councillors felt time was needed to read the Louise Casey report into the scandal in Rotherham, that was published last week.

Complaints were made to Kirklees Council with concerns the subject wasn’t being taken seriously after a story in the Examiner revealed that only two councillors – a third of those eligible – attended the meeting where the idea was put forward.

Confusion also needs to be resolved about what function scrutiny plays in the issue as the council set up a cross-party safeguarding panel that may not have a scrutiny function, as defined in its constitution.

Clr Julie Stewart-Turner, chair of the management committee, said: “The council agreed to support the cross-party panel. We don’t want to duplicate the work but we do need to make sure we have an overview of the work they are doing.”

Clr Nigel Patrick replied: “This safeguarding panel hasn’t got a scrutiny function. The council has established procedures but how are we checking to see if they are working?

“What’s come out of Rotherham is that scrutiny councillors were heavily criticised and I don’t want that to happen to anybody here.”

Paul Johnson, assistant director for family support and protection services, offered advice: “From the outset I am absolutely keen that we get clarity from everybody’s point of view.

“I would urge you all to read the Casey report which does talk a lot about scrutiny and governance and what does and doesn’t work.”

The seven-strong management committee voted four to three in favour of delaying implementing any ideas for all to assess the Casey report. The also agreed the chair of the safeguarding panel should report back to them.

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