Partners are working together to prevent and protect against child sexual exploitation, and also pursuing those responsible according to a progress report on work to prevent the crime in Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Council is part of a multi-agency response to prevent child sexual exploitation (CSE) with a range of actions working closely with the police and key agencies to ensure those committing the crime are stopped.
CSE involves children and young people being tricked, forced or manipulated into sexual activity in exchange for something such as money, alcohol, drugs, gifts, accommodation, affection or status. CSE can occur through the use of technology without the child immediately recognising it is happening.
Cabinet member for children, Laura Mayes said: “We are constantly looking to improve the work we do to ensure we keep our children safe and free from harm. This latest report shows partnership working and taking decisive action is having an impact but there is always more to do.
“We all have a part to play in preventing CSE and I’d urge anyone who has a concern to get in touch even if they’re not completely sure so we can investigate and ensure our children are safe.”
Detective Superintendent Craig Holden, Head of Public Protection at Wiltshire Police said: ”Protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities continues to be one of the highest priorities for the force and we’re working really closely with our partners to raise awareness of the issues around all Child Sexual Abuse, including Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). We have integrated services to provide safeguarding to people who are at risk of abuse or who have been abused and work together closely to disrupt and bring to justice those that commit these crimes. The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and the Emerald Team that is co-located within the MASH play a vital role in preventing and tackling CSE.”
Mark Gurrey, chair of the Wiltshire Safeguarding Children Board said: “This action plan means the work to protect our children against CSE is always a high priority. It’s essential we keep on working together, using all the tools at our disposal to keep our children safe and ensuring everyone understands the importance of speaking out if they believe CSE is taking place.”
Wiltshire Council has a zero tolerance approach to CSE and since May 2015 has had a CSE Action Plan to ensure it remains a high priority. The Emerald Team, a joint partnership between the council and Wiltshire Police, which works closely with partner agencies to protect children from CSE, was set up in November 2015.
Since it was created the Emerald Team has supported 97 children, successfully intervened to remove children from CSE abuse and provided services to reduce risk and promote protection. Currently the team has 38 cases, indicating 59 children have been protected or removed from abuse in the last 17 months.
The team sets up return interviews for missing children with specialist Emerald Team workers so they can work through the reasons they ran away to inform the child’s plan to keep them safe.
The team has also forged effective working relationships with key agencies which have regulatory power to disrupt perpetrators where prosecution is not yet possible.
Currently 12 perpetrators are identified and subject to disruption tactics, police investigation or monitoring co-ordinated through the multi-agency child sexual exploitation meetings. A further 14 perpetrators have been effectively dealt with by prosecution or their behaviour disrupted by various means including council and housing society injunctions, sexual risk orders and bail.
The progress report on the CSE action plan was reviewed by council leaders at their cabinet meeting this week.
Anyone who has concerns that a child may be the victim of CSE can call the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0300 4560108
To find out more about Wiltshire’s work in this area visit http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/cse