Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence from the Department for Education [LCG 06]

Introduction

1. Nothing is more important than keeping children and young people safe from harm. Child sexual exploitation is child abuse and is completely unacceptable in this, or any other, society. It is a serious crime and needs to be treated as such, with perpetrators robustly pursued and brought to justice.

2. Since early 2011 the Department for Education (DfE) has been working with other Government Departments and a wide range of national and local organisations to tackle child sexual exploitation. As set out below, the Department has published a national action plan (in November 2011) and a progress report on implementation of the plan (in July 2012). We have also committed to further reviews of progress in implementing the plan so that we maintain a relentless focus on tackling the issues.

3. Localised child grooming is a significant form of child sexual exploitation. DfE welcomes the opportunity, through this memorandum, to address the important issues being examined in the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry.

Background

4. The launch of the Barnardo’s Cut them free campaign and publication of the Puppet on a String report in January 2011 identified the urgent need for child sexual exploitation to be recognised as a form of child abuse. The campaign called for a lead minister on the issue and for a national action plan. In response, the Government confirmed that the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, Tim Loughton MP, would lead the development of a national action plan and this work was set immediately in train.

5. The then Minister brought together key partners (see Annex B), including other Government Departments and statutory and voluntary sector organisations, at roundtable meetings in March and September 2011 to inform policy development and preparation of the action plan. On 23 November 2011 the national Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan (“the action plan”) was published.1

6. The action plan looks at child sexual exploitation, including localised child grooming, from the point of view of the child. It sets out a co-ordinated programme of action to raise awareness; protect young people who are at risk; prosecute, convict and imprison those who exploit children; and help victims and families get their lives back on track. The action plan was developed in the light of the thematic assessment Out of Mind, Out of Sight: breaking down the barriers to understanding child sexual exploitation, published by the Child Sexual Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in June 2011 (see paragraphs 14 and 15 below). It took account of a University of Bedfordshire report, published in October 2011, on the extent and nature of the response of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) to the 2009 statutory guidance (see paragraph 14). The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) also launched in October 2011 its two year independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups (the CSEGG Inquiry; see paragraph 7).

7. In May 2012, nine members of a network responsible for child sexual exploitation in Rochdale were convicted of appalling crimes. That case raised serious concerns about the particular vulnerability of young people in residential care. On the day of sentencing, the Secretary of State for Education asked the Deputy Children’s Commissioner to report to him urgently on emerging findings from the CSEGG Inquiry. The OCC “accelerated” report, published on 3 July 2012, focused particularly on risks facing looked after children living in children’s homes and included 11 recommendations. The Government accepted all of them.

8. The Report from the Joint Inquiry into Children who Go Missing from Care issued on 18 June by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers reached conclusions which were similar to those in the OCC report. The joint APPG report went to the heart of some of the serious failings in the system of care and support for these very vulnerable children.

9. The Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan progress report (the progress report), also published on 3 July 2012, set out encouraging progress being made in implementing the November 2011 action plan. It included the immediate actions that the Government was taking to address the recommendations in both the OCC “accelerated” report and the joint APPG report. The progress report recognised that there was still much to be done, but noted that LSCBs were rising to the challenge, acting to ensure that local organisations worked together to identify and tackle child sexual exploitation. The report also highlighted work being taken forward over and above the commitments in the action plan including, for example, by voluntary sector organisations.

10. The Government understands that the OCC will publish its interim report from the CSEGG Inquiry in the Autumn of 2012. That report is expected to draw on data gathered over the first year of the Inquiry and provide evidence on the prevalence and patterns of child sexual exploitation. Full recommendations on policy and practice are expected in Autumn 2013 when the Inquiry concludes.

11. The Government will continue to develop and update the national action plan as new evidence emerges. The Government therefore welcomes the Select Committee Inquiry and will consider carefully the Committee’s deliberations and recommendations to help inform the development of policy and action in this area.

12. As requested by the Select Committee, the evidence in this paper responds to the main lines of its Inquiry as set out in the terms of reference. This evidence does not, therefore, cover the full breadth of work underway to tackle child sexual exploitation, which is set out in the action plan and the associated progress report.

Scope and Nature of the Problem

13. The Government notes that the Select Committee is considering the quality of data collection, data sharing and research on child victims of localised grooming. The Government agrees that understanding the scope and nature of child sexual exploitation is of fundamental importance.

14. The Barnardo’s Puppet on a String report and the CEOP Out of Mind, Out of Sight thematic assessment (June 2011) added significantly to our understanding of child sexual exploitation but both documents emphasised the need for a stronger evidence base. University of Bedfordshire research published in October 2011 looked at the extent and nature of the response of LSCBs to the 2009 Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation statutory guidance. Despite the central role of LSCBs in establishing the nature and prevalence of child sexual exploitation in their areas so that they can develop effective local strategies to tackle it, the research found that over half held no relevant data.

15. The CEOP thematic assessment stated that most incidents of child sexual exploitation go unrecognised. It rightly warned that local areas cannot conclude that it is not an issue for them if they have not undertaken a proper assessment. Although some areas did hold relevant data, it was clear that LSCBs needed to supplement it with information from all their local partners.

16. Since the publication of the national action plan, the collection and sharing of data by LSCBs and their partner organisations has improved. However, it is still not possible to give an accurate figure of the number of children affected by sexual exploitation nationally. The OCC “accelerated” report supports the evidence presented in the Barnardo’s Puppet on a String report and the CEOP thematic assessment that child sexual exploitation is widespread and more prevalent than was previously thought.

17. Emerging evidence from the OCC “accelerated” report suggests that perpetrators of child sexual exploitation are not exclusive to any one community, race or religion and that the victims—who are both male and female, although predominantly female—come from an equally diverse range of backgrounds. The emerging findings also suggest (see paragraph 53 below) that most children at risk of sexual exploitation are not looked after children living in residential care. Such children do, however, appear to be disproportionately represented in the overall number of victims. The Government understands that the OCC interim report will provide further evidence on prevalence and patterns to help make the national picture clearer.

18. The Government believes that robust, reliable risk assessments by LSCBs are fundamental to understanding the scope and nature of the problem. This is made clear in both the statutory guidance (mentioned in paragraph 14 above) and the action plan. Tim Loughton, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, also wrote on 3 July 2012 to LSCB chairs and Directors of Children’s Services (copied to Directors of Public Health and all police forces) seeking their support and emphasising that:

“as a priority, all LSCBs must establish the nature and extent of the problem locally and assess how well they are responding”.

19. Details of the action underway to support LSCBs in undertaking robust and reliable risk assessments are set out in the action plan and the July 2012 progress report. This includes work already completed by the University of Bedfordshire to provide a data monitoring tool to record the prevalence and nature of child sexual exploitation. The tool, with guidance on its use, has been circulated to all LSCBs and other relevant organisations. A review of data using the data monitoring tool will be undertaken by CEOP and the University later in 2012.

20. Whilst the data that local authorities submit to DfE are different from that reported to the police, inconsistency remains when comparing like with like. Data from police forces show significantly higher numbers of children missing from care for more than 24 hours than is reported by some local authorities. On 21 June 2012, the Department wrote to all local authorities, asking them to review their data collections on children missing from care (and who might as a result be at risk of sexual exploitation) and to check their figures against those collected by local police forces. The Government has also established a working group, chaired by DfE, to develop an improved data collection system in order to give a clearer national picture of children who go missing from care. This group has been meeting regularly over the summer and, as well as examining data issues, is considering what more needs to be done to improve practice to reduce the numbers who go missing from care, and to protect children effectively when they do go missing.

21. A number of actions, detailed in the action plan, are being taken forward to address barriers to the sharing of information between agencies. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), for example, is seeking to improve voluntary arrangements between local authorities and other partners to ensure the timely exchange of information that is relevant to investigations. The Government will also be consulting later in 2012 about changing regulations so that Ofsted can share information on the location of children’s homes with the police and other relevant bodies.

The extent to which LSCBs have implemented key aspects of national guidance on child sexual exploitation

22. The central role of LSCBs in co-ordinating the work of agencies locally was clearly articulated in the previous Government’s statutory guidance published in 2009. Although the Coalition Government has concerns that the length and complexity of that document may be counter-productive, it considers that there is much in the document which is still good guidance.

23. Implementation of the guidance has, however, been patchy. The 2011 University of Bedfordshire research (see paragraph 14 above) indicated that only a quarter of LSCBs were implementing the guidance and that many had not identified child sexual exploitation as a priority issue in their area. The Government made clear in the action plan that LSCBs should take full account of the main messages contained in the statutory guidance and act in accordance with them. This was followed up with letters to LSCB chairs in December 2011 and July 2012 (see paragraph 18 above), seeking their support in tackling child sexual exploitation.

24. The progress report shows encouraging progress by LSCBs in ensuring that local organisations are working together to identify and tackle child sexual exploitation. There is still much to be done, however, as some areas are still failing to recognise and respond to child sexual exploitation as well as they should. Accordingly, a number of fora have been established to support LSCBs in mapping the needs of their own areas and ensuring that effective arrangements are in place.

25. For example, the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People (“the National Working Group”2) has set up LSCB Co-ordinators and Business Managers fora. The Association of Independent LSCB Chairs is also supporting LSCBs in tackling child sexual exploitation, including through a new Special Interest Group.. The terms of reference for the Group are still to be agreed but are likely to include reviewing lessons learned; sharing good practice; and promoting multi-agency approaches.

26. In addition, the Government published alongside the 3 July progress report a new short step-by-step guide What to do if you suspect a child is being sexually exploited. This guide sets out the key actions for frontline practitioners if they suspect a child is being sexually exploited. It was developed in liaison with a wide range of organisations, including local authorities, police, health and the voluntary sector, to make it an accessible resource which complements the much more detailed statutory guidance.

Whether the current criteria for triggering involvement by social services in individual cases take adequate account of the signs of localised grooming

27. The 2009 statutory guidance and the new step-by-step guide set out the circumstances in which the involvement of children’s social care services should be triggered. Both documents contain lists of indicators of child sexual exploitation, including those associated with localised grooming. Such lists can play an important role in raising awareness of parents and professionals about localised grooming and other forms of sexual exploitation and in indicating the circumstances in which referrals to children’s social care services should be considered. They highlight going missing from home, care or education as key indicators and emphasise the importance of return interviews, following missing episodes, in informing the identification, referral and assessment of sexual exploitation cases.

28. The need to give careful consideration to the issue of “consent” is also raised in the step-by-step guide. This responds to anecdotal evidence that in some cases professionals may be accepting apparent “consent” as a reason not to refer cases to children’s social care services. The guide sets out the circumstances in which “consent” cannot apply and that this can be the case for all children under the age of 18 years.

29. Both documents make clear that cases referred to social services should be considered by a qualified social worker and that an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (provision of services for children in need and their families) must be undertaken in all cases where child sexual exploitation, or the likelihood of it, is suspected. The assessment should reach a conclusion as to whether the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. Where that is the case, the social worker is expected to hold a strategy discussion involving the police, health and other relevant statutory and voluntary sector organisations to consider whether a section 47 enquiry is required. Where a section 47 enquiry to decide whether the local authority should act to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child is deemed necessary, a child protection conference would follow.

30. In line with the step-by-step guide, statutory agencies and voluntary sector organisations are expected to reach agreement on the services to be provided to the child or young person. The guide makes clear that full account should be taken of both the identified risk factors and the child or young person’s family and wider circumstances. Where the child or young person is not deemed to be in need as defined in the Act, the social worker must consider onward referral to other agencies which provide services for children and young people with additional needs.

Whether frontline agencies are adequately equipped to identify victims and intervene at an early stage

31. As described above, the statutory guidance and the new step-by-step guide for frontline practitioners set out the roles and responsibilities of individual frontline agencies. Appropriate training of professionals is also of critical importance. It is the responsibility of LSCBs and individual organisations locally to ensure that such training is in place. There are, however, a wide range of actions underway nationally to support local areas in ensuring that frontline organisations and professionals have the skills and knowledge to identify victims and intervene at an early stage.

32. The National Working Group and other voluntary sector organisations continue to promote awareness and understanding. This work is pursued through web-based communications, conferences, seminars and other training and awareness-raising events. The National Working Group alone delivered awareness raising to over 3,400 practitioners between July 2011 and July 2012. Other relevant initiatives include:

The Children’s Society Street Safe Project in Lancashire, where a group of young people have been working together to produce an advice leaflet for professionals.

Barnardo’s and the Local Government Association’s joint publication Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation: Helping local authorities to develop effective responses, issued in June 2012, which sets out how local authorities can protect children from sexual exploitation.

joint work between the National Working Group and The Children’s Society to develop the Say Something If You See Something campaign, addressing the problem of hotels unwittingly being used as venues for the sexual exploitation of young people.

33. The Government understands that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is developing proposals for the training of frontline police officers on child sexual exploitation. ACPO has established a “task and finish” group to consider the learning and development issues for policing identified in the CEOP thematic assessment and is expected to publish a related action plan later in 2012. ACPO is also developing a virtual library of child sexual exploitation awareness materials and considering the best way to cover child sexual exploitation in the Police Online Knowledge Area (POLKA).

34. The Home Office is also ensuring that child sexual exploitation issues are taken account of in wider related work. This includes:

the Teenage Rape Prevention campaign which ran until March 2012, raising awareness and preventing teenagers from becoming victims and perpetrators of sexual violence and abuse;

the provision of support to 29 areas affected by gang and youth violence under its Ending Gang and Youth Violence strategy, which incorporates work to address the sexual exploitation of gang-associated women and girls;

the Positive Futures programme which is focused on preventing and diverting vulnerable young people aged 10–19 away from crime and substance misuse;

the Review of effective practice in responding to prostitution, published in October 2011; and

supporting the work of the Metropolitan Police Healthy Relationships Training (HEART) Programme to safeguard teenage girls at risk of sexual violence and help those being abused to escape their predicament. A total of 360 girls have benefited from the HEART programme and a further 180 young women will take part in it in 2012.

35. The Department of Health (DH) is working with key partners to identify where existing training and guidance for health professionals can be improved. The 2012 Foundation Curriculum for new doctors now includes competences on meeting the health needs of women and children who are victims of violence and abuse, which means that all new foundation year doctors should receive relevant training. DH has also commissioned a short film to go on NHS Choices, the online “front door” to the NHS, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation amongst young people, parents and healthcare professionals.

36. The College of Social Work has published curriculum guides for social work education, including one on neglect, violence and abuse of children and adults which includes specific reference to sexually exploited and trafficked children.

The support provided to victims and witnesses by a range of agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service, Police and voluntary agencies

37. The action plan highlighted the particular importance of identifying the needs of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses as early as possible in the criminal justice process. The Provision of Therapy for Child Witnesses prior to a Criminal Trial: Practice Guidance issued in 2001 provides guidance for children’s services professionals and lawyers making decisions about the provision of therapeutic help for children prior to the trial.

38. Judges and magistrates are expected to take an active role in the management of cases involving young and vulnerable witnesses. This includes ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made and special measures are implemented to alleviate some of the stress of giving evidence. Children and young people under 18 are automatically eligible for special measures. These include, for example, providing child witnesses with more choice about how they give evidence; and the removal of wigs and gowns worn by judges and lawyers. Guidance on special measures has been updated and improved and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has been proactive in promoting this to the sector.

39. The Witness Intermediary Scheme was set up by the MoJ to implement the intermediary special measure, providing trained and accredited professional communication specialists who can communicate between the court, defence and prosecution and the witness. To date the Scheme has assisted in over 5,500 cases, many of which would not have otherwise gone to trial. The MoJ is also taking forward work to explore the feasibility of the pre-trial video recorded cross-examination and re-examination special measure which would allow witnesses to provide all their evidence early in the prosecution process.

40. The MoJ documents Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings and Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses: a Police Service Guide (both March 2011) provide guidance for those responsible for conducting video-recorded interviews with vulnerable and intimidated witnesses, as well as those who prepare and support such witnesses during the criminal justice process.

41. The MoJ is currently reviewing victims’ services to ensure that those affected by crime—including young victims—are supported in the best way possible. Proposals were published in the consultation Getting it right for victims and witnesses which ran from 30 January to 22 April 2012.

42. The Home Office has made available £400,000 per year for the three years ending March 2015 to fund 13 young people’s advocates to support young victims of sexual violence and exploitation, including from street gangs. The successful bids have now been announced, with eight organisations gaining funding.

43. DH has established a Child Sexual Exploitation Health Working Group to take forward a programme of work to highlight the particular needs of children who have been sexually exploited. In addition, the Academy of Royal Colleges has set up its own working group to consider what more the Royal Colleges can do, both individually and together, to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation, identify victims, and provide ongoing support for them.

44. DH is also working to improve education and training to increase the pool of competent forensic physicians available to victims and the responsiveness of all doctors to victims of violence, including sexual assault. Work is additionally underway to improve the development of sexual assault referral centre (SARC) services.

45. The Department for Education (DfE) continues to support a Barnardo’s project developing specialised foster care placements for victims of child sexual exploitation and trafficking (see paragraph 62). The National Working Group is also continuing to help local authorities share good practice in making provision for children and young people who are recovering from child sexual exploitation.

Challenges in bringing successful prosecutions against those who are involved in the localised grooming of children for sexual exploitation 

46. Apart from the difficulties inherent in uncovering and successfully investigating offences, there are a number of challenges in building the trust and confidence of victims and providing support to them. Support is necessary so that they are willing and able to engage fully in the criminal justice process and present as credible witnesses.

47. In order to overcome these challenges, organisations involved in the criminal justice system, including the MoJ, Attorney General’s Office, the Home Office, the CPS and ACPO, are working together to ensure that:

professionals have the skills and knowledge to identify child sexual exploitation and play their part in delivering successful investigations and prosecutions;

victims and witnesses are fully supported and protected from intimidation; and

there is a confidence in the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

48. Some examples from the wide range of work underway to help overcome these issues and challenges are:

A joint MoJ and police project team which is developing proposals to improve guidance, training and authorised professional practice for police officers, to enhance the protection of intimidated witnesses.

The Home Office working to ensure that the police continue their efforts to secure prosecutions locally, supported nationally by strategic threat assessments and CEOP.

ACPO creating a toolkit for investigators to help secure prosecutions.

Judges and magistrates being encouraged to take an active role in the management of cases involving young and vulnerable witnesses to alleviate the stress of giving evidence. This includes ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made and special measures (referred to in paragraphs 38 and 39 above) implemented as appropriate. In cases involving multiple defendants, judges are expected to consider the scope for restricting repeat cross examination.

MoJ providing over £15 million in grant funding from April 2011 to March 2012, through the Victim and Witness General Fund, to voluntary sector organisations to provide support to victims of serious crimes including sexual exploitation.

The CPS developing a programme of work to improve the effectiveness of prosecutions. This includes detailed consideration of a selection of child sexual exploitation cases and identification of best practice. It will result in targeted training and the development of legal guidance on the specific issues arising when prosecuting cases of child sexual exploitation.

New sentencing powers for dangerous offenders coming into effect later in 2012, with serious violent and sexual offenders being subject to new extended determinate sentences. Very serious repeat offenders will be subject to mandatory life sentences.

Children in Local Authority Care

49. The Inquiry is examining the proportion of child victims in local authority care or otherwise known to social services. The Government agrees that this is an important area for investigation.

50. On 31 March 2012 there were 67,050 looked after children, 62% of whom were provided with a service due to abuse or neglect. 9% of the looked after children were accommodated in secure units, children’s homes and hostels.3 Evidence suggests that children in residential care may be particularly vulnerable to child sexual exploitation (see paragraphs 51 and 52 below).

51. The Barnardo’s Puppet on a String report highlighted the vulnerability of children in local authority care or otherwise known to social services. In particular, the report noted that:

“some groups of young people are more vulnerable to targeting by the perpetrators of sexual exploitation. These include: children living in care, particularly residential care, those who are excluded from mainstream school and those who misuse drugs and alcohol”.

Placing children in residential care “out of area” is another important issue. That is why the Government announced on 3 July the establishment of an expert task and finish group, chaired by the DfE to consider such placements and the implications for young people’s safety and care. That group is established and is taking this work forward.

52. The CEOP thematic assessment and research by the University of Bedfordshire which followed later in 2011 both found that a disproportionate number of sexually exploited young people were looked after by the local authority, before or during exploitation. CEOP found that:

“Of the 896 children in the dataset whose living situation was known, 311 were already in care at the time of the exploitation and a further 43 children were moved into care following intervention.”

The University of Bedfordshire research raised concerns about the high number of young people vulnerable to sexual exploitation who are accommodated in residential care; and the potential for that vulnerability to increase without specialised training and management in place.

53. As recorded in paragraph 7 above, following the conclusion of the Rochdale court case the Secretary of State for Education asked the Deputy Children’s Commissioner to report to him urgently on emerging findings from her Office’s CSEGG Inquiry. This “accelerated report”, published on 3 July, focused in particular on risks facing looked after children in children’s homes. The report recognised that:

“The current body of literature on child sexual exploitation consistently cites children in care as being particularly vulnerable to child sexual exploitation. …. However, the literature also acknowledges that while children in care account for a disproportionate number of children known to be sexually exploited, the majority of known sexually exploited children are not children in care.”

54. The Deputy Children’s Commissioner made a number of recommendations in her report which have been accepted by Government. The APPG Joint Inquiry into Children Who Go Missing from Care, referred to in paragraph 8 above, reached similar conclusions.

55. Urgent action is now underway in response to those reports, to help protect children in residential care. It includes work to:

ensure that there is much better and clearer data about children who go missing from care, and who may then be at risk of sexual exploitation. As mentioned in paragraph 20 above, the Department is working with the police, local authorities and voluntary groups to develop a data collection system which is more meaningful and gives a much clearer picture of the numbers of children who go missing from care;

change regulations so that Ofsted can share information about the location of children’s homes with the police and any other relevant bodies;

improve local authorities’ scrutiny of their decisions to place children out of area and the care and support provided to children who are placed away from their home authorities; and

address all aspects of the quality of children’s homes and develop an action plan for significant improvements.

56. The Select Committee Inquiry is also examining the circumstances under which care services report missing children to the police. The Government is committed to protecting all missing people but recognises that children are particularly vulnerable to harm and exploitation whilst missing. The Government’s Missing Children and Adults Strategy accordingly highlights the importance of this issue and provides a core framework for local areas to consider if they can, and should, do more to protect children who go missing. The Department is also considering how local authorities, carers and the police can further improve local practice to prevent children from going missing from care and protect those who do.

57. The DfE Statutory guidance on children who runaway and go missing from home or care (2009) advises local authorities how to minimise the risk of children going missing from care and on circumstances in which care services should report missing children to the police. It emphasises the importance of authorities working with the police, providing all necessary information so that the child can be located as quickly as possible. The Department is currently revising the guidance to give local authorities a clearer understanding of their duties and how to decide on the arrangements which are suitable for their areas. At the same time, ACPO is proposing to issue supplementary guidance to police forces, and will ensure that appropriate advice is consistent with DfE guidance.

58. The statutory guidance requires that local Runaway, Missing from Home and Care (RMFHC) protocols are in place and that LSCBs maintain an oversight of these. The local authority’s strategy for managing “missing from care” incidents should be set down in RMFHC protocols and agreed with the local police and other partner agencies, including any local voluntary services. These RMFHC protocols should cover a range of joint-working procedures and systems including:

agreed categories of absence and definition of missing from local authority care;

appropriate responses to children and young people who go missing from care, including arrangements for making missing persons reports to the police;

escalating the approach to intervention with individual children to reduce the likelihood of a child repeatedly going missing;

agreed reporting and recording systems for local authorities; and

effective reporting and information-sharing between the local authority, the police and other agencies.

59. The National Minimum Standards for children’s homes and fostering services require all registered children’s homes and fostering services to have explicit procedures for when children in their care may be missing or absent without permission. These procedures must be compatible with local RMFHC protocols. The statutory guidance makes it clear that children’s homes and fostering services should work with the police and the authority responsible for the child’s care to do all they can to locate them.

The degree of coordination between the Department for Education’s child sexual exploitation strategy and other policy areas

60. DfE continues to work both within the Department and with other Government Departments at ministerial and official level to ensure that:

the links between child sexual exploitation and related policy areas are highlighted in strategies, action plans and guidance documents; and

there is effective co-ordination of different initiatives.

61. The progress report contains many examples of this co-ordinated approach across a wide range of policy areas. They include:

working within the Department on children who run away or go missing from home or care, and missing from education policies;

Ministers from DfE and the Home Office jointly chairing the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, which regularly discusses ways of helping children stay safe online;

working with the Home Office on missing children, violence against women and girls, and women, girls and gangs policies; and

working with MoJ on intimidated victims and witnesses policy.

62. The terms of reference for the Inquiry refer specifically to the “degree of coordination between the Department for Education’s child sexual exploitation strategy and the Home Office’s human trafficking strategy”. DfE and Home Office ministers and officials continue to work closely together to ensure that appropriate links are made between these policy areas. Examples of this important joint working can be found in the following Government documents:

Human Trafficking: The Government’s Strategy (July 2011), which notes the particularly vulnerable position of children trafficked to and within the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation. It sets out the Government’s commitment to prevent, and safeguard children from, the threat of child traffickers and to ensure that, where child victims are identified, they receive the best support and protection possible;

Safeguarding children who may have been traffickedPractice guidance (updated 2011), which is a joint DfE and Home Office document highlighting the plight of children trafficked into, and within, the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation. It sets out the roles and responsibilities of individual agencies as well as the national capability that is in place to tackle such trafficking; and

Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan (November 2011), which recognises the links between child sexual exploitation and trafficking and the need for specialised care for victims. It included a commitment by DfE to provide a voluntary and community service grant over the two years ending March 2013 to a Barnardo’s project developing specialist foster care placements for victims of child sexual exploitation and trafficking.

Conclusion

63. Child sexual exploitation is very complex and it is important that every aspect is addressed. This will take time but good progress is being made in implementing the action plan and DfE recognises the vital importance of that progress being maintained in the months ahead. The Department is determined that everything that can be done is done to make children and young people safer from sexual exploitation.

Annex A

SOURCE DOCUMENTS

All Party Parliamentary Groups for Runaway and Missing Children and for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

The Report from the Joint Inquiry into Children who Go Missing from Care, June 2012

http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-lobbying/parliamentary-work/appg-inquiry-children-who-go-missing-or-run-away

Barnardo’s

Puppet on a String: the urgent need to cut children free from sexual exploitation, January 2011

http://www.barnardos.org.uk/ctf_puppetonastring_report_final.pdf

Cut them free campaign, January 2011

http://www.barnardos.org.uk/cutthemfree

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)

Thematic assessment, Out of Mind, Out of Sight—breaking down the barriers to understanding child sexual exploitation, 2011

www.ceop.police.uk/Publications

Crown Prosecution Service

The Provision of Therapy for Child Witnesses prior to a Criminal Trial: Practice Guidance

http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/prosecution/therapychild.html

Guidance on special measures

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/special_measures/

Resources to support Victims and Witnesses

http://www.cps.gov.uk/victims_witnesses/

Department for Education

Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan, November 2011

www.education.gov.uk/tackling-child-sexual-exploitation

Tackling child sexual exploitation action plan progress report, July 2012

www.education.gov.uk/tackling-child-sexual-exploitation

What to do if you suspect a child is being sexually exploited—a step-by-step guide for frontline practitioners, July 2012

www.education.gov.uk/tackling-child-sexual-exploitation

Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation: Supplementary guidance to Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2009

www.education.gov.uk/tackling-child-sexual-exploitation

Statutory guidance on children who run away and go missing from home or care, 2009

www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/safeguarding/a0066653/young-runaways

Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked—Practice guidance, 2011

https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/DFE-00084–2011

Statistical First Release—Children looked after by local authorities in England, 25 September 2012

http://www.education.gov.uk/researchandstatistics/statistics/a00213762/children-looked-after-las-england

Home Office

Human Trafficking: The Government’s Strategy, 2011

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/human-trafficking-strategy

Review of effective practice in responding to prostitution, 2011

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/responding-to-prostitution

Missing children and adults strategy, 2011

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/police/missing-persons-strategy

Ministry of Justice

Consultation document on getting it right for victims and witnesses, January—April 2012

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/victims-witnesses/consult_view

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, 2012

http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/press-releases/moj/royal-assent-for-legal-aid,-sentencing-and-punishment-of-offenders-bill

National Working Group http://nationalworkinggroup.org/

Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC), England

Office of the Children’s Commissioner Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups

http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/info/csegg1

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s (OCC) early report on emerging findings from its Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups, July 2012

http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/publications

University of Bedfordshire

What’s going on to safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation? How local partnerships respond to child sexual exploitation

http://www.beds.ac.uk/news/2011/october/exploitationstudy

The University of Bedfordshire Child Sexual Exploitation Data Monitoring Tool, 2011

http://www.beds.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/162209/final-version-Updated-data-monitoring-tool-new-Dec-11.pdf

University of Bedfordshire “Self Assessment Tool” to assess progress in protecting children from sexual exploitation, 2012

http://www.beds.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/152179/Self-assessment-tool.pdf

Annex B

ORGANISATIONS REPRESENTED AT CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION ROUNDTABLE MEETINGS

Association of Directors of Children’s Services

Attorney General’s Office (the then Solicitor General and official)

Barnardo’s

Blast

British Youth Council

Centre for Justice

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Runaway and Missing Children and Adults

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)

Child sexual exploitation survivor

Children’s Society

Coalition for the Removal of Pimping

Comic Relief

Department for Education (the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, who chaired the meetings, and officials)

Department of Health (official)

Derby LSCB

Home Office (the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and officials)

Lancashire Police

Lucy Faithfull Foundation

Ministry of Justice (the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and officials)

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People

Office of the Children’s Commissioner

Rape Crisis

Safe and Sound Derby

University of Bedfordshire

Youth awareness campaigner

1 Details of this and other source documents mentioned in this memorandum are contained in Annex A.

2 The National Working Group is a charity and UK wide network of practitioners, policy makers and researchers working with children and young people who are at risk of, or who experience, sexual exploitation.

3 Statistical First Release 20/2012.

Prepared 29th January 2014