No denial of child sexual exploitation

PUBLISHED: 09:55 04 October 2015

Weston Town Hall.

Weston Town Hall.

Archant

A ‘CULTURE’ of denying child sexual exploitation does not exist in North Somerset, according to a council working party set up to investigate the issue.

But, it says, it is important to ensure this did not change in the future.

The issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) made national headlines after serious incidents in Rotherham were exposed.

A working party of seven North Somerset Councillors was created in November to ensure lessons were learned from Rotherham, where more than 1,400 children are believed to have fallen victim to CSE between 1997 and 2013.

The group has now reported its findings.

It said in Rotherham, a major issue was council relationships where staff felt unable to report concerns because of perceptions ‘members were not wanting to hear of such things’ and a bullying culture.

The report says: “The working group recognised that it was important to ensure that such a culture did not develop in North Somerset.

“The working group was satisfied that such a culture did not exist in North Somerset.”

It said the culture did not exist in the district because of the support by partner agencies and good working relationship between officers and councillors.

The working group said staff also accepted the existence of CSE and were willing to share information. It also praised the commitment of the senior management to tackling CSE.

The report says: “A number of young people who are in the care of the local authority came in because they are at risk of sexual exploitation or have been sexually exploited.

“Due to the very strong influence of the abusers the local authority has placed those young people some distance away and will continue to do so in order to provide security, care and support for the young people to rebuild their lives.

“Children and young people who are at risk of sexual exploitation or who are being sexually exploited are responded to as children in need of protection.”

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