Services in Sheffield have been praised for their efforts to tackle child sexual exploitation in a new report published this afternoon.
The report was commissioned by Sheffield Council in the wake of the devastating Jay report, which revealed at least 1,400 children had been abused in neighbouring Rotherham over a 16-year-period.
While Professor Alexis Jay highlighted ‘blatant failings’ by police and council leaders in Rotherham, Sheffield report author Dr Kathryn Houghton said city agencies are ‘advanced’ in their response to dealing with the crime.
She said: “It is clear from this multi-agency assessment that Sheffield’s partnership approach to child sexual exploitation is meeting standards to deliver effective services, and in many instances is at the forefront of best practice.
“This work has taken a thorough look at how services designed to respond to child sexual exploitation are currently delivered across Sheffield. Practice already incorporate the recommendations from the Jay report, and have done so for some time.
“There is an open culture around the challenges of child sexual exploitation in Sheffield and services have a history and documented evidence of being willing to tackle and confront difficult issues, regardless of ethnicity.
“An action plan to further enhance practice has been agreed by partner services across Sheffield. This will continue to inform how these difficult issues are addressed as part of its ongoing commitment to do all it can to continue to protect and support vulnerable children and young people.
“We are all continuing to learn about this hugely complex issue and this review into services in Sheffield is an important step in this.”
Councillor Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “It is a sad fact that child sexual exploitation affects every community across the country, and has a devastating effect on the lives of children, young people and their families.
“In Sheffield we have never ignored this, although it is an immensely difficult and complicated issue which presents huge challenges for everyone. We have made every effort to tackle the exploitation of vulnerable young people and will continue to do so in the future.”
Sue Fiennes, independent chair of Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board, said: “We have delivered specialist child sexual exploitation training programmes to more than 1,700 practitioners across Sheffield. Additionally we have provided CSE awareness programmes to parents, carers and community groups and to the taxi and hotel trades.
“We are committed to using every tool at our disposal and will always act on lessons learned to continue to develop our understanding and approaches.
“We will continue to help the community, together with professionals, working right across the city, to recognise and respond to the issues. Sheffield will be focused on delivering developments identified in the action plan that follows this assessment.”
*Full story and reaction in tomorrow’s Star