Casey Report

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Police chiefs to meet author of report on council’s failure to tackle child sexual exploitation in Rotherham

Published February 25, 2015 by JS2

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South Yorkshire police chiefs have vowed to meet the author of a scathing report on Rotherham Council’s failure to tackle child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Louise Casey, tasked by the Government with examining how and why Rotherham Council failed to tackle the issue, has now suggested that South Yorkshire Police should face the same level of scrutiny.

Her inspection of the council painted a picture of a local authority in denial about how more than 1,400 children had been subjected to rape, violence and trafficking by gangs of mainly Asian men.

Ms Casey told a committee of MPs she ‘left no stone unturned’ in her inspection and believes South Yorkshire Police’s failure to deal with child sexual exploitation should be subjected to the same level of scrutiny.

“The police, South Yorkshire Police more generally, need to look at their failure to the victims of Rotherham, full stop,” she said.

“The police have to step up and accept the same level of responsibility to those victims and those perpetrators as the local authority.

“We were asked to inspect Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and we left no stone unturned. It’s a pretty thorough and damning report. The same level of scrutiny has not happened to the police in Rotherham over that time.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police officers engaged with Louise Casey and her review team throughout her inquiry and we have made a firm commitment to meet with her in the very near future to discuss her findings in further detail.

“South Yorkshire Police has referred a number of complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

“We remain committed to assisting them with their independent investigation into any alleged misconduct.

“The National Crime Agency is carrying out an independent investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the period covered by the Jay report at the request of Chief Constable David Crompton.

“The first stage of the investigation, called Operation Stovewood, is now underway.”

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.

Child sexual exploitation: implications for adult social care and safeguarding boards

Published February 11, 2015 by JS2

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The repercussions from child sexual exploitation reverberate into adulthood, says Angie Heal, so adult social care needs to understand the issue and respond effectively

The publication of the Jay report in September 2014 was another watershed moment in child protection. The revelation that over 1,400 children were sexually exploited over a 16-year period in Rotherham shocked the nation and has been the subject of worldwide attention. Rotherham is not an isolated case: Rochdale, Oxford, Derby and Reading have all hit the headlines following prosecutions for child sexual exploitation (CSE). All local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) should now be conducting enquiries to understand the size and nature of CSE locally.

The focus of political, media and public interest has rightly been on the response of children’s social care and LSCBs, in conjunction with their police partners. But now is a time to reflect further about the implications. These children grow up; they reach the age of 18 – or 21 in the case of children who are looked after by local authorities – when they are no longer the responsibility of children’s services. Adult social care and safeguarding adult boards (SABs) need to be aware of child and adult sexual exploitation, understand the issue locally and develop a proactive and effective response, at both a strategic and individual level. Adult services and SABs should learn from the CSE research and policy reports (including a report from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the Jay report, and the Casey report into Rotherham Council); findings are transferable to the adult care milieu.

Adult victims

In essence, there are two groups of adult victims. First, those who continue to be abused by perpetrators once they turn 18 or 21, and who should subsequently become the subject of a safeguarding adult enquiry. Second, survivors who are no longer being abused but disclose previous CSE, to which the statutory adult agencies have a duty to respond. Even when the sexual, physical and psychological abuse has stopped, the majority will require some level of care and support as adults because of issues including mental ill health, self-harm, problematic use of illicit drugs or alcohol, interrupted education resulting in no or low paid jobs and economic insecurity.

Parents and siblings may also be traumatised and have suffered abuse from perpetrators. Victims may have a child fathered by a perpetrator, who may or may not be in their care. Whilst the focus has wholly been on white girls, those who are far less likely to report such crimes should not be ignored: these include girls from black and minority ethnic groups, and boys of all ethnic origins.

Transition arrangements

As children, victims may already be in receipt of services. This may be as a result of having a child protection plan, learning or physical disabilities, mental health problems, being a looked-after child, reporting to the youth offending service or being in secure accommodation, for example. Transition arrangements should be more effective as a result of the Care Act 2014, which should regulate the move from children’s to adults’ services for those who are eligible. Each local area should satisfy itself that it is adequately prepared to respond; the Casey Report expressed significant unease about Rotherham services:

“We have serious concerns about the group of young people during their transition to adulthood: that is, over 18. It was unclear to inspectors what happens to victims of CSE at this point. [Rotherham Council] do not view these young people as victims with ongoing support needs, and instead see their role in terms of a statutory children’s social care responsibility which ends when the children turn 18.

Some interviewees suggested that services were just turned off. Adult services did not have an effective system in place to ensure a smooth and effective transition for this vulnerable group. Indeed, the criteria for receiving adult services mean that the victims may not meet the need for continued support even though they remain vulnerable, and in some cases continue to be sexually exploited.” (p93)

Human consequences

The human consequences of the failings of statutory services to protect children in Rotherham has been monumental. As well as the trauma to the victims and their families, perpetrators have been allowed to continue unabated; the local Asian community and the people in Rotherham in general have been stigmatised and devastated by what has happened; the reputations of Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police have been savaged; workers and officers demoralised. The financial costs of failing to proactively address CSE are also huge, with class action being taken by survivors.

No one should underestimate the ordeal victims have undergone, nor the challenges they face in recovery. The support of all relevant adult services, therefore, is vital in order to promote their well-being and prevent, reduce or delay the onset of further needs.

Angie Heal is a director of Policy Partners Project. As a former employee of South Yorkshire Police, she wrote reports in relation to child sexual exploitation. As a result she was a witness in the Jay and Casey inquiries, gave evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and will  also be a witness in the Independent Police Complaints Commission and National Crime Agency investigations into police office misconduct.