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Identifying, preventing and responding to child sexual exploitation – roles and responsibilities to all children

South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board’s role in preventing, identifying and responding to sexual exploitation and identifying young people at risk

South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board (SGSCB) has a key strategic role to play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in our area. SGSCB is responsible for coordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of the work of its members. They should act in accordance with this guidance in carrying out their functions and should make arrangements to:

  • actively enquire into the extent to which children are involved in CSE
  • monitor and review local implementation of the CSE strategy and accompanying action plan
  • provide appropriate interdisciplinary training to aid professionals who work with children and their carers and/or with adults who abuse children through CSE and to help them recognise the signs and symptoms of CSE

Schools role in identifying, preventing and responding to all children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation

Through their PHSE programmes schools will promote models of healthy and consensual sexual relationships. Empowering young people to make positive choices in their relationships is fundamental to them making informed decisions that protect them from sexual exploitation. This work will be targeted, particularly in schools which deal with more vulnerable pupil groups, for example a Pupil Referral Unit.

Schools will encourage a culture whereby children can discuss concerns they have about themselves or their friends in relation to sexual exploitation.

Schools will be aware of the risks associated with pupils with poor attendance records and will follow the available guidance on managing attendance, determined by the assessed level of risk.

Schools should be vigilant in being aware of any activities by adults towards pupils which cause concern. If schools have any concerns they must discuss this with ART.

Health professionals role in identifying, preventing and responding to all children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation

Health professionals have a key role to play. School nurses, CAMHS staff, sexual health services, pharmacists and other health staff will be mindful of the circumstances/concerning behaviours, linked with child sexual exploitation. They will be aware of their duty to confidentiality and to share information in order to protect children and young people. Whenever there is a concern about a young person and it is not clear if there is a duty to share information, they should contact their designated lead for safeguarding to discuss the appropriate action.

The commissioned specialist cse service’s role in preventing, identifying and responding to all children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation

The commissioned service will prioritise direct support to victims who are currently believed to be being sexually exploited or who are believed to be at high risk of sexual exploitation. (Completing a SERAF will help workers to identify whether a child is at risk of sexual exploitation).   Referrers should contact the commissioned service in the first instance to discuss possible referrals meeting the above criteria before making a formal referral. Referrals can be made by any professional involved with a child.

The specialist commissioned service will work with other professionals providing advice, support and guidance which enables and empowers professionals to work to support victims where a referral to the commissioned service isn’t applicable or appropriate.

The specialist commissioned service will work alongside the Local Authority to develop knowledge and information about cse in South Gloucestershire.

Police role in identifying, preventing and responding to all children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation

The police have a key coordinating role in achieving the disruption of activities carried out by sexually exploitative adults. The police use a wide range of legislation to achieve prosecution and disruption. See Appendix A for the range of orders, notices etc used by the police.

The police require close communication and co-operation from agencies to help protect individual young people and end the activities of perpetrators. The police rely heavily on partner organisations in the sharing of background information on victims, suspects and vulnerable young people so that informed decisions on joint action can be made.

It is a feature of the joint approach to dealing with safeguarding issues that staff other than police officers may at times find themselves in a position to secure and preserve vital evidence which could support a subsequent criminal prosecution. In such circumstances advice can be obtained from the police in respect of how to seize and preserve the integrity of such evidence. This is particularly important with sexual offences where it may be possible to secure forensic evidence from the victim or their clothing but also applies to any notes or diary entries made by a victim at the time the offences were committed. Additional supporting evidence from involved parties such as case records from professionals should also be considered.

Preventative services role in identifying, preventing and responding to all children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation

Any incident or situation in which a young person is assessed as being vulnerable to sexual exploitation but there is no evidence of exploitation taking place, should lead to the use of the SAFeh process. The agency identifying the concerns should lead the SAFeh and involve partners in a Team Around the Child (TAC) approach where the young person or parents give consent. In such cases, a lead professional will be agreed and a plan of early intervention and prevention support will be developed. This will be based on the key principles outlined above. SAFeh support can be obtained from ART.

Preventative services will need to complete the SERAF at regular intervals to monitor the level of risk for the child.

It may be that it is necessary to refer to children’s social care due to the need to intervene to safeguard the welfare of the child or young person. A SAFeh approach may not be suitable in all cases especially where the risks are high. Referring to the threshold matrix and a child’s journey of need will help practitioners to consider the level of intervention appropriate.