Jay Report

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Taxi drivers ‘being treated like criminals’ over child sex abuse sessions

Published February 17, 2015 by JS2

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CABBIES in South Tyneside claim they are being “treated like criminals” after plans were revealed which they feel forces them to attend child sex abuse prevention sessions as a condition of their licence.

The council is proposing to make attendance at the training sessions a condition for Hackney Carriage and private hire taxi drivers getting a licence to work in the borough and the new rule would also apply to anyone handling calls in a taxi office.

The move comes in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

The Jay Report into the scandal said more than 1,400 children were abused in the town between 1997 and 2013 and found taxi drivers played a “prominent role” in the abuse. Many of the victims were ferried to their abusers in cabs and some drivers were also found guilty of abuse.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman denied taxi drivers were being singled out for special treatment and said other selected groups will also be asked to take the course.

But some borough drivers have reacted with anger at the plan.

Hackney Carriage driver Michael Ridley described it as “an insult”.

He said: “It’s just another example of the nanny state and a complete over-reaction. The council are just making us jump through hoops.

“They are basically treating us like criminals. I am a driver with no criminal record – why should I have to attend a course on child sexual exploitation?”

He added: “A few years ago I was contacted by the Criminal Records Bureau because I had the same name and date of birth as an offender, but a different year. I gave fingerprints and palm prints.

“They are on a database. They know exactly where I am if they need to contact me. I have nothing to hide.

“This is the council being over-zealous. It’s a waste of time and money. When I was doing school runs and I was asked to attend a course on child abuse, which I did because I was told it would be beneficial. This is different – this is an insult to the trade locally.”

Another Hackney Carriage driver, who didn’t wish to be identified, added: “Why should we be associated with what happened in Rotherham? This is South Tyneside. We are being tarred with the same brush and it’s wrong.

“We face enough pressures without the council pointing the finger at us in this way. What are the public going to think of this?”

A report, to be presented to next Friday’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee says the measure was being considered to “ensure all private hire and Hackney Carriage drivers are fully aware of issues relating to child sexual exploitation, and other matters which the council may consider important in the future.”

Drivers will be given seven days notice of attendance at the training sessions and “failure to attend without reasonable cause may prevent renewal of a driver’s licence”.

The council’s licensing committee meets at South Shields Town Hall next Friday from 10am.

Twitter@shieldsgazpaul

Cabbies are ‘eyes and ears of community’

A LEADING South Tyneside councillor says taxi drivers have an important role as the “eyes and ears of the community”.

Coun Tracey Dixon, the council’s lead member for area management and community safety, said many members of South Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association were supportive of the proposal for drivers to attend child sexual exploitation training sessions.

She said: “We are seeking the support of key members of the business community in tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation.

Independent reviews into such cases have concluded that tackling this issue should be everyone’s business and the council is committed to taking a proactive stance.

“Raising awareness in key business sectors – including the taxi trade – is part of our wider, ongoing approach.

“We have met with representatives of the trade – including members of the South Tyneside Hackney Carriage Association and a number of private hire operators – who have been supportive of the proposals.

“Taxi drivers have an important role to play as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community.”

The council says the proposed training events are designed to give a greater understanding of CSE to teach members of the community to ‘spot the signs’ and to advise people how to report any suspicious behaviour so that relevant agencies can build up an intelligence picture.

Shields Gazette

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.

Rotherham scandal: IPCC to investigate 10 officers over handling of child sex claims

Published November 18, 2014 by JS2

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The police watchdog has announced it is to investigate 10 South Yorkshire police officers over their handling of child sexual exploitation in the wake of the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the 10 officers – who have not been named – were identified through Professor Alexis Jay’s independent review of how child abuse allegations were handled.

Another three officers identified by an internal police review are not part of the new inquiry, an IPCC spokesman said.

Kathryn Stone, an IPCC commissioner, said: “The amount of public concern across the country about this episode and the impact on confidence in the police means it is important that a fully independent investigation is conducted to establish how South Yorkshire Police dealt with child sexual exploitation.

“I sincerely hope that victims and their families will see this investigation as a positive step towards answering the many questions they must have.

“I have met with South Yorkshire Police and am reassured by their commitment to fully cooperate with the investigation.”

The IPCC set out how a number of potential police misconduct allegations were identified in Prof Jay’s report, which was published earlier this year.

In one case, an officer is alleged to have argued during a child protection conference against incidents being treated as sexual abuse because he thought thatthe child had been “100 per cent consensual in every incident”.

The Jay report was critical of the remarks, which related to a CID officer who had been investigating offences against a 12-year-old girl who had sex with five men.

The IPCC also said that there had been “no police activity” around a suspect who, according to intelligence records from June 2001, was threatening a family and encouraging a victim to engage in prostitution.

A spokesman for the watchdog said no officers have yet been identified in relation to this allegation.

Other allegations of misconduct centre on evidence in a 2003 rape case being lost and a failure to progress an investigation into a report of a 14-year-old girl being raped.

Two officers will be investigated over claims they failed to adequately investigate an incident of a young girl being found drunk in the back of a car, and an individual having indecent photographs of her on his mobile telephone.

In a further allegation, two officers will be examined over claims they did not adequately investigate naked images of a young girl and “possible evidence of group offending”, the IPCC spokesman said.

The controversy following Prof Jay’s report led to a series of high-profile resignations including Roger Stone, the Rotherham council leader; Martin Kimber, the council chief executive and Joyce Thacker, the director of children’s services.

The most high profile resignation was that of Shaun Wright, South Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner, who was the Rotherham councillor overseeing children’s services between 2005 and 2010.

South Yorkshire’s chief constable David Crompton has also been under pressure to explain his force’s attitude towards child sexual exploitation over the last 15 years.

Mr Crompton has pledged to investigate individual cases and stressed that his force has seen a massive increase in the number of officers and other staff devoted to tackling the crime in the last couple of years.

Last month, the the National Crime Agency (NCA) announced it would lead an investigation into outstanding allegations of child sex abuse in Rotherham.

The NCA said it was taking on the inquiry following a request from Mr Crompton.

 

David Barrett

Child sexual exploitation ‘widespread’, MPs conclude

Published November 18, 2014 by JS2

Organised child sexual exploitation (CSE) is widespread across England and local authorities need to ensure they fully investigate concerns when they arise, a report by MPs has concluded.

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The communities and local government committee report also questioned Ofsted’s ability to identify problems around CSE through the children’s services inspection process and whether councillors were sufficiently trained to properly challenge senior officers about the extent of safeguarding concerns.

The report was carried out to investigate accountability and governance issues for local government that arose from the Jay Report into CSE in Rotherham, published in August.

The committee said that after reviewing the evidence gathered by the Jay Report and hearing testimony from witnesses, it concluded that Rotherham “was not an outlier, and that there is a widespread problem of organised CSE in England”.

The report adds: “It follows that other authorities not only need to review their own arrangements in the light of the Jay Report but also the government needs to ensure that guidance and benchmarks are in place to ensure these reviews are effective and children are identified and protected.”

It also warned authorities not to hold off carrying out their own investigations into credible allegations or suspicions of organised CSE “because of the consequences of the publication of the Jay Report“.

The Rotherham Council-commissioned Jay Report estimated that between 1997 and 2013, 1,400 children and young people had been subject to organised sexual abuse, and criticised how local agencies handled concerns raised. Following publication, an independent child protection commissioner was appointed in Rotherham, an inspection of the council headed by troubled families tsarLouise Casey was launched, and the director of children’s services Joyce Thacker resigned.

Despite Thacker’s departure, the committee said the lack of action over a long timeframe meant others who previously held children’s services responsibilities but have since moved to other authorities or retired “have serious questions to answer for their conduct”.

Rotherham Council is undertaking an independent review of practice and staffing issues raised by the Jay Report. Where issues arise relating to staff no longer at the authority, the review will consider whether these should be referred to the person’s new employer and the appropriate professional bodies.

“It is our intention to review the outcome of this process,” the report adds.

The MPs said the Jay Report raised “serious questions” about the performance of Ofsted after it judged Rotherham children’s services to be “adequate” in 2012. It said it will be calling Ofsted to give evidence on its scrutiny of children’s services in Rotherham.

In addition, it criticises the failure of internal reports on the CSE risks in Rotherham to clarify the scale of the problem. It also says these should have been challenged by councillors as concerns had arisen over a number of years about CSE in the town.

“The quality of the reports from senior officers and the apparent lack of challenge by councillors raises a serious question about the adequacy of skills and training of executive councillors,” it adds.