Whistle-blowing hotline plan to help tackle Telford's growing child sex abuse problem
A whistle-blowing hotline could be set up as part of a range of measures to tackle Telford's problem with child sexual abuse.
It comes following revelations that the issue is growing in the borough
A new 101-page report was released today outlining ways to combat the growing problem and protect more children from harm.
Other recommendations call for more support for victims and their families, better sexual health services for young people and better support for victims as they go through the justice system.
There will also be extra training given to taxi drivers in the borough to help them identify girls who may be vulnerable and need help.
The report by the Children and Young People's Scrutiny Committee has been released on the third anniversary of the date that reporting restrictions were lifted allowing publication of details on Operation Chalice, a large-scale police investigation into a child prostitution ring in Telford.
Taking more than 18 months to complete, the report follows news earlier this year that Telford has the highest rate of sex crimes against children in England and Wales. The number of sexual offences increased in 2014 and West Mercia Police saw a 75 per cent increase in rape cases and 45 per cent increase in sexual offences.
It says that partly this has been due to the so-called 'Savile effect' where high-profile cases had encouraged more victims to come forward.
It also shows how successful convictions for rape and sexual offences in the borough have increased to well above the national average.
Though good work is being done in the area, the report calls for vigilance in the ongoing fight against child sexual abuse.
It says: "Despite the success of Operation Chalice, it is clear that child sexual abuse is still taking place in Telford and Wrekin, although the true scale of this crime is unknown.
"We have been told that in some areas the activity of people suspected of involvement in child sexual abuse is 'blatant'.
"Several organisations told us that the number of people accessing services was a small proportion of the total number of cases and this is supported by the responses to our online survey which show that half of respondents had not contacted a local service for help."
The report adds that though organisations are "working well together" to identify and stop exploitation, "more can be done.
Agencies on the Safeguarding Children Board, which includes the council, police, health services and many others who have contact with young people now have 38 recommendations of ways that children and parents can be made better aware of the dangers of child sexual exploitation and protected against them.
Today's report outlines 38 of recommendations that will be implemented by all agencies working to protect children across Telford.
1. Work being done by partners to identify the scale of child sexual exploitation across Telford.
2. Setting up a whistle-blowing hotline for people who have concerns about at child at risk to allow information to be passed on anonymously.
3. Taking steps to protect the resources tackling child sexual exploitation in the face of ongoing public sector cuts.
4. Increasing therapeutic support for victims and their families.
5. Improving sexual health services for young people in Telford.
6. Offering better support for victims when cases pass through the Criminal Justice System and taking particular care to look after victims in court.
7. Raising awareness of child sexual exploitation in younger children, particularly those in primary school in a way that is appropriate for their age.
8. Making the council's Family Connect service more visible to people living in the borough, the service offers help and advice to people who are concerned about the welfare of a child.
9. A review of taxi licensing policy in Telford, making them stronger and to include child sexual exploitation training for drivers – something that has already been introduced while the report has been put together.
10. The implementation of new computer systems which will make it easier for the council and police to share information about child sexual exploitation in the borough.
11. Continual reviews of the issue of child sexual exploitation in Telford with six monthly monitoring reports to track the problem.
12. To think about the lifelong impacts of child sexual exploitation, though victims are under 19, it has a lasting impact on victims and their families. Plans are to be made which ensures the needs of those people are recognised and met.
13. To make sure parents are encouraged and supported to talk to their children about these delicate issues and that they are informed about the risks of child sexual exploitation and know who to contact if they have concerns.
14. Training on child sexual exploitation is to be given to all foster carers and staff working with children within the local authority.
15. To ensure victims have appropriate access to Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services whenever they need it.
The agencies involved in the report are all of those that is on the borough's safeguarding children board, which includes Telford & Wrekin Council; schools; health groups, including the Clinical Commissioning Groups, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and mental health services; West Mercia Police, the youth offending service, the national probation service; Herefordshire, Shropshire & Telford Community Rehabilitation Company; West Midlands Ambulance Service.
Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service and also has representation from community groups, housing associations, voluntary and faith groups and early years school providers.
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.