Chris Mahony 04 February 2020

Local agencies 'woefully ill-equipped' to stop child abuse

Local agencies woefully ill-equipped to stop child abuse image

Children are being left at risk because local agencies – including social care – are often ‘woefully ill-equipped’ to prevent and respond to child sex abuse in families, four inspectorates have warned.

In a hard-hitting report the inspectorates suggest that agencies are failing to apply lessons learned during child exploitation scandals to sexual abuse taking place within the family home.

Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary & Fire and Rescue Services conducted a joint targeted area inspection of relevant services in six local authority areas.

The inspectors identified shortcomings in training and support for frontline professionals across all the agencies. Their report also calls for concerted local and national information campaigns to raise the profile of familial child sexual abuse and improve understanding.

A 2015 report by the Children’s Commissioner concluded that around two-thirds of child sex abuse takes place within the family environment. Despite that, today’s report says, ‘efforts to protect children are being hampered because agencies – and society more generally – are afraid to talk about familial sex abuse’.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said: ‘As a society we are far too reluctant to talk about sex abuse within the family home…Prevention is the best form of protection. As it stands, children abused in the home are going unseen and unheard because agencies simply aren’t capable of keeping them safe. The lack of national and local focus on this issue is deeply concerning and must be addressed.’

The inspectorates found some examples of good practice – including information initiatives in schools –but these tended to be piecemeal.

Their concerns included:

  • Poor communication and joint working
  • Classifying known child abuse victims in child protection records as being victims of neglect or emotional abuse
  • A failure to conduct holistic assessments
  • A failure to consider the risk to a victim’s siblings or other children.

The inspections focussed on services in Bracknell Forest, Cornwall CC, Derby City, Islington LBC, Shropshire County Council and York City Council.

It is the latest in a series of joint targeted inspections since 2016 to establish how well agencies are working together in key child protection areas.

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said: ‘Tackling child abuse in all its forms is a priority for all local authorities but as the report states, sexual abuse in the family environment is a very complex area. A multiagency response is needed to both uncover and address this abuse and close working with schools, probation, health partners and the police is key.

'The report highlights good practice in the areas that were inspected, however, it’s clear that much more needs to be done by all safeguarding partners to ensure we identify, protect and support children being abused within the family. Any potential national strategy should give specific consideration to boys, disabled children and children from certain ethnic backgrounds who can face additional barriers to disclosure.’

Creating communities for all ages image

Creating communities for all ages

Bringing younger and older people together produces dividends, says Stephen Burke, who outlines how councils can encourage more intergenerational care and living.
Revolutionising mental health image

Revolutionising mental health

Cllr Jasmine Ali explains how Southwark Council is putting plans into action to revolutionise children’s mental health in Southwark.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - Children with Disabilities - West

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £41000.0 per month
In Essex County Council we are "Serious about Social Work". Having recently won the Best Social Work Employer of the Year Award 2018 and been awarded England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Education Legal Services Officer

Essex County Council
Please note that there are 2 positions available, 1 permanent position and 1 fixed term position for 12 months. Essex County Council has embarked upon England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Project Support Officer

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£25,833 - £29,796 per annum
This role supports the project delivery and business operations of the Asset Strategy and Short Breaks Teams, ensuring that regular business runs... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Data Administrator

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£25,833 - £29,796 per annum
You must have excellent ICT skills to include Excel and Word, plus experience of using email. Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Team Manager - Corporate Support

Epping Forest District Council
£33,500 - £36,401 (doe) plus excellent benefits
To be successful you will have previous experience in a Team Management role in service delivery with a focus on continuous improvement. Essex
Recuriter: Epping Forest District Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue