Inspectors criticise Doncaster agencies over CSE failings
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Child protection agencies in Doncaster have come under fire for failing to take action to protect three girls in a children's home from child sexual exploitation (CSE).
A probe by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into child protection work by South Yorkshire Police highlighted “serious concerns” about how police and other authorities supported children in care homes in the town.
The report reveals that, in one case, a multi-agency meeting recommended that three young girls who had been placed in a children’s home were separated because they were becoming involved in “increasingly risky behaviour”.
However it took a month for this to happen – in which time the girls went missing on several occasions, were found under the influence of drugs and were sexually assaulted by several men.
The report states: “Although officers knew and were concerned that the girls continued to be at risk of child sexual exploitation, they reported a sense of helplessness and did not escalate their concerns to senior officers.
“There was also insufficient action taken against the men who were exploiting the girls, such as investigating their behaviour, monitoring their activities or identifying other children who might be in contact with them - even though police knew that these men were likely to pose a risk to other children.”
The inspection, which took place in May this year, was conducted prior to the publication of professor Alexis Jay’s report into CSE in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013, which criticised the response of South Yorkshire Police to the issue.
The report into Rotherham – which is just 12 miles from Doncaster – estimated there had been 1,400 victims in the town during the period.
The HMIC report - an assessment of how services are faring in the present day – found that there is currently some good practice in relation to the issue in both Rotherham and Sheffield.
However, it said responses in Barnsley and Doncaster are “less well developed”, going on to express “particular concerns about Doncaster”.
Doncaster Council has already asked its local safeguarding children board to conduct a “lessons learned review” into the findings of the HMIC inspection.
Earlier this month Doncaster’s director of children’s services, Eleanor Brazil, told CYP Now that the authority made good progress and will continue to make necessary improvements to support our vulnerable young people.
Publication of the report comes the day before children's services at the authority are due to be transferred to an independent trust.