Child sexual exploitation and the response to localised grooming - Home Affairs Committee Contents

3  Voluntary sector

105. The role of the voluntary sector in the response to child sexual exploitation ought not to be underplayed. It is often their specialist services which victims are referred to and it will be workers within those services who frequently gain the trust of the victims leading to disclosure of the abuse. The serious case review which followed Operation Retriever in Derby described one such service, Safe and Sound Derby, as being "pivotal … in identifying the nature and scale of the abuse."[230] In Operation Mansfield in Torbay, the sexual exploitation was identified as a result of a third sector worker who identified missing children as regularly visiting the perpetrator's home.[231] In many cases, it has been voluntary sector services which have provided support to victims throughout prosecutions and who have identified issues with successfully prosecuting cases.[232] Detective Superintendent Critchley explained how the voluntary sector acted as an independent supporter to the victims of child sexual exploitation in Lancashire.

    The Children's Society, CROP and Barnardo's, for example, play that role from the moment we get the disclosure through to court, and are able to play that role to support victims through to court where there is not that relationship with a police officer.[233]

106. Voluntary sector organisations can also take a role in prevention work such as training for frontline professionals[234] and awareness-raising in the community.[235] However, Alyas Karmani commented that voluntary organisations can often reach people not necessarily engaged in the community but that this work was being constrained by lack of available resources. He said that there were areas within communities

    where a lot of CSE takes places, where the traffickers are, where the groomers are. Who is actually in that space? A lot of third sector organisations, third sector youth engagement outreach and detached projects like STREET operate in that particular environment, and we have had a massive challenge. We have been saying to a lot of Local Safeguarding Boards that we want to do that work on streets with gangs and with young people at risk but the resources have not been there to facilitate that and allow us to do the work that we can do to create prevention and safeguarding.[236]

Safe and Sound Derby run a support group for parents whose children have been affected by child sexual exploitation "to enable them to understand what is happening, to help them protect their child and support the rest of their family, and to deal with other agencies who are likely to be involved with their case, such as the police and children's social care."[237]

107. The voluntary sector plays a vital role in identifying child sexual exploitation and supporting victims through investigations, prosecutions and beyond. We recommend that the Government ensure that where voluntary organisations are effectively supporting official agencies in tackling child sexual exploitation, there are resources made available to continue the partnership. This is especially important in terms of funding for voluntary sector organisations which work with young people at risk. We earlier highlighted the importance of prevention and early intervention and we take this opportunity to recommend that resources be allocated to ensure that this vital work takes place.

230   Derby Safeguarding Children Board, Serious Case Review BD09: Executive Summary, July 2010, page 3 Back

231   Correspondence from The Children's Society, 12 March 2013 Back

232   Q 192 Back

233   Q 484 Back

234   Ev w20 [Safe and Sound Derby] Back

235   Q 831 Back

236   Q 825 Back

237   Ev w22 Back

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Prepared 10 June 2013