Police forces across England and Wales are raising their game in the battle to eradicate child sexual exploitation, the National Policing Lead for Child Protection has said.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey told Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker improvements were already being made following revelations of widespread child sexual abuse over many years in Rotherham.
He said he had contacted all forces since a report by Professor Alexis Jay found 1,400 victims were subjected to horrific crimes in the South Yorkshire town between 1997 and 2013.
Professor Jay’s report highlighted failings by the council, police and other agencies.
Chief Constable Bailey, who sits on the Sexual Violence Against Children and Vulnerable People National Group which is led by the Minister, added he had been given assurances forces were strengthening their response to child sexual exploitation to ensure it was sufficiently robust.
After meeting Chief Constable Bailey in Norfolk, the minister toured the area’s multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) and the Reaching Out on Sexual Exploitation (ROSE) project.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said:
Chief Constable Simon Bailey has a vital role in co-ordinating the police response to child sexual exploitation and is leading swift action to drive improvements in the wake of the deeply disturbing failings in Rotherham. I welcome this.
The coalition government is absolutely clear that lessons must be learned across the board and around the country to ensure safeguarding responsibilities are now being met.
While there is much more to do, a number of initiatives are producing excellent results and I was pleased to see Norfolk’s multi-agency safeguarding hub as evidence shows information sharing is key to child protection.
I have made it clear that organisations, while complying with data protection, should always put the safety of a child first.
I also welcome the work of the Reaching Out on Sexual Exploitation project, which assists the MASH to identify those at risk of abuse, support victims and help police bring perpetrators to justice.