Councillor Ralph Berry

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Specialist team to protect Bradford children from sexual abuse is dealing with up to 100 suspected cases at any one time

Published November 18, 2014 by misty534

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A TEAM set up to protect Bradford children from sexual abuse is dealing with up to 100 suspected cases at any one time, councillors will be told.

A report drawn up in the wake of the exploitation scandal in Rotherham lays bare the scale of the task facing the city council’s inter-agency ‘hub’.

The hub, which boasts 23 professionals from the police, social care and mental health services, and children’s charity Barnardo’s, meets at 9am every day to discuss cases.

And it has been handed £250,000 of funding, at a time when Bradford Council is being forced to slash tens of millions of pounds from its day-to-day spending.

Now a report, set to be debated by councillors tomorrow, will seek to “provide assurance” that Bradford is doing everything it can to protect the city’s children.

It notes that a recent Ofsted inspection praised the close working of police, social care and Barnardo’s within the hub as “a particular strength”.

But it adds: “Operational data shows that the number of high and medium risk cases managed through the hub is between 60 and 100 at any one time.

“As of June 2014, the ethnic profile of perpetrators shows a significant majority of perpetrators are of British-Pakistani heritage.”

The Council will meet as a committee of MPs warns the horrors of Rotherham – where 1,400 children were abused, over 16 years – “could be repeated across the country”.

Today’s report, by the Commons communities and local government committee, urges other local councils to “review their own arrangements”.

Clive Betts, the committee’s chairman, said: “We heard alarming evidence that the organised child sexual exploitation at Rotherham is prevalent across England.”

Councillor Ralph Berry, Bradford’s executive member for children’s services, said there would be “grim” headlines in the months to come, as historic cases came to court.

But he said: “We’ve found £250,000 of additional money and I believe we now have the proper procedures, and the appropriate skills, to support victims of sexual exploitation.”

Among the steps taken by Bradford are:

  • Ensuring all looked-after children cases are reviewed regularly by independent officers – including those placed outside Bradford.
  • Allowing those children to speak with an advocate to “ensure their views are heard, understood and considered by those responsible for their care”
  • Ensuring every Year 10 student watches a “drama” about sexual exploitation.
  • Training ‘peer mentors’ to work with young people in Keighley, through the Hand in Hand project.
  • Commissioning Barnardo’s to expand its work to support more boys and young men.