Laura Sharman 17 February 2015

Frontline services failing to identify child sex abuse victims, warns report

Local authorities are failing to identify children at risk of being sexually exploited, according to the findings of a new report.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is warning that while there have been improvements made in identifying victims of child sexual exploitation following high profile cases such as Rotherham, there are still wide variations in levels.

If it's not better, it's not the end report found that in one cluster of nine local authorities with comparable demographics and deprivation levels, the rates of known victims of child sexual exploitation vary between 1 and 65 per 10,000 children.

The report also found that while the majority (92%) of local safeguarding children boards have produced a strategy to address child sexual exploitation, progress has yet to filter down to frontline practice.

Sue Berelowitz, deputy children's commissioner for England and chair of the Inquiry said: ‘When we began our Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups in 2012, there were a few lone voices around the country desperately trying to help the child victims. Thankfully, much has improved and many of the agencies which are responsible for protecting child victims have woken up to this damaging crime.

‘However, it is clear that at the frontline much work is still needed. There is a gap between strategy and what happens on the ground. I am concerned that some areas continue to focus on one pattern of abuse overlooking child victims and perpetrators of some of the other types of sexual exploitation our work uncovered.’

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