Everyone needs to look for signs of child sexual exploitation’ – East Riding councillor Kerri Harold

Published February 17, 2015 by JS2

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THE chairman of a review into child safeguarding issues in the East Riding says everyone should take responsibility for looking out for signs of child sexual exploitation.

Councillor Kerri Harold spoke out after councillors formally accepted 34 recommendations made by a panel set up in the wake of the Rotherham abuse scandal.

She said: “We went into the review looking for any gaps or loopholes and to make sure we understood the procedures currently in place in the East Riding.

“The one thing we did not want to be was complacent.

“We were also determined this should not be the end, this is just the beginning because times are changing.”

Cllr Harold said members of the community have a duty to look out for, and report, signs that children are being exploited.

“The way young people interact with new technology means the problem of child sexual exploitation is no longer just about someone lurking on a street corner.

“It could be that someone is there in the bedroom or in the living room because there is no escape from the technology being used by young people.

“If any of us think it’s the responsibility of one person to take the lead on safeguarding, they are wrong.

“We have got to accept we need a multi-agency approach from organisations like ourselves and the police but we need everyone in the community to play their part, too.

“They hold the key because people must have the confidence to come forward and report things.

“The solution is out there in the community.”

The review generally gave the current procedures a clean bill of health.

It also revealed an increasing number of children in the East Riding are assessed as being at risk of child sexual exploitation.

In 2013-14, there were 71 cases compared with just five in 2011-12.

The review said the increase was almost certainly due to increased awareness of child sexual exploitation issues among both professionals and the public.

Cllr Harold said the review had not examined the background of three former senior Rotherham safeguarding officers who currently work for the East Riding.

The trio include Pam Allen, who is head of children and young people’s support services at County Hall.

Cllr Harold said: “The purpose of the review was to look at the current procedures in the East Riding. That was our remit.

“Our role was to look at the here and now and to have put the focus on any particular officer for their work with another authority would have been wrong, in my opinion.”

Councillor Stephen Lane described the continuing media coverage over the three officers as “distracting”.

Kevin Hall, the council’s director of children, family and schools, said the authority had an “outstanding” working relationship with Humberside Police over safeguarding issues.

“The panel has done a very thorough job of work looking at all the processes involved but I cannot guarantee that new cases will not come forward because, unfortunately, they will,” he said.

Trend reveals low number of risk cases

THE review included a snapshot of current child sexual exploitation cases across the East Riding using intelligence gathered from a number of partner agencies.

It found a low number of cases where children are assessed as being at “high risk”.

Typically, girls were more likely to speak up and raise concerns than boys.

Cases are also scattered across the county, not just in towns and larger settlements.

However, there have been more recent cases reported in Bridlington and Goole.

Most cases involve lone white male perpetrators.

Unlike Rotherham and other recent high-profile cases, gang-related exploitation is not identified as a problem in the East Riding. However, agencies have reported an increase in cases linked to parties where alcohol and drugs are freely available.

Hull Daily Mail

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