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Agenda item

Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service - Annual Report 2019/20

Report of the Chief Executive Officer, Sheffield Futures



The Committee received a report of the Chief Executive Officer, Sheffield Futures, attaching the Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service - Annual Report 2019/20.




In attendance for this item were Dan White (Head of Health and Targeted Services, Youth Services), David Ashcroft (Independent Chair, Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership), Tina Gilbert (Manager, Sheffield Children Safeguarding Partnership), Councillor Jackie Drayton (Cabinet Member for Children and Families), Councillor Abtisam Mohamed (Cabinet Member for Education and Skills) and Carly Speechley (Director of Children and Families).




Dan White referred to the introductory report, which contained information on the service user profile for 2019/20, key achievements in 2019/20 and priorities for the Service in 2020/21.




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·            The relationship between the Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service (SSES) and South Yorkshire Police remained very strong, with a number of police officers being co-located within the Service at Star House.  The highest number of referrals to the Service came from the police, and regular, weekly discussions were held between the two parties as a means of sharing information.  There had been an increase in the number of referrals of children looked after to the Service in 2019, and the strong relationship between the Service and the Children Looked After Team had helped to ensure that any issues of concern were identified and dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity.  It was believed that such work had helped to ensure that the number of referrals from this cohort had not increased further.  Following the issues experienced in Rotherham and other areas of the country, a considerable amount of work had been undertaken to raise awareness and ensure that all partners were aware of how to refer cases to the Service.  Relationships between the Service and schools remained very strong, with steps being taken to ensure that all school staff were aware of the correct process, and had a contact number, in terms of referring cases.




·            It was too early to tell whether there had been any effects caused by the pandemic in terms of those cases dealt with by the criminal justice system.  The Service had identified a reduction in referrals at the start of the pandemic, but once staff had organised themselves in terms of being able to continue to support those cases at the highest need, the next step would be to identify if any such issues were apparent.  It was not yet clear whether this had resulted in a knock-on effect in terms of cases further on in the process, and which were going to be referred to the criminal justice system.  The SCSP had noticed, when taking reviews of cases, that there had been delays during the pandemic in terms of toxicology reports and post-mortems.




·            The work of the Service was largely driven by referrals.  As a result of the extensive work undertaken over the last few years in terms of raising the awareness of partners, cases had generally been referred to the Service at the earliest possible opportunity.  Despite this, the Service was looking at what could be done to enable more referrals.  Further to a drop in referrals after Lockdown 1, in March 2020, the Service had undertaken a piece of work on looking at the pathways for referrals to see if there were any blockages and, although no such blockages had been identified, this work would continue.




·            Identifying specific patterns of crime that were not being referred to the Service would require more oversight from other partners, particularly the police, social care and education.  It was considered that the Service had a good oversight in terms of current trends, but would include this as an area of work to maintain its focus on.




·            As a result of the high profile sexual exploitation cases in Rotherham, and elsewhere in the country, the police had learned a lot in terms of how it should respond to such cases.  This had resulted in a profound change, both locally and nationally, in the understanding and willingness of senior police officers to engage in the issue of young people’s confidence in coming forward and reporting cases of exploitation.  It was considered that extensive progress had been made in this area over the past few years.  The Amber Project had been established as part of the contextualised Safeguarding Strategy, the role of which was to help support and develop the wider workforce around their understanding of what contextualised safeguarding was, the risk factors involved and who was included in this cohort, as well as working with children and young people who had been affected by sexual exploitation.  Also, as part of the launch of the Strategy, the Amber Ambassador Scheme had been launched, where children and young people were encouraged to have a trusted adult relationship with an ambassador, to enable them to discuss issues of concern with them.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents of the Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service - Annual Report 2019/20 now submitted, together with the comments now made and the responses to the questions raised;




(b)      thanks Dan White, Tina Gilbert, David Ashcroft, Carly Speechley and Councillors Jackie Drayton and Abtisam Mohamed for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised; and




(c)      requests:-




(i)             that consideration be given for (A) the Annual Report to be produced earlier, so as to enable its submission to the Committee earlier in the Municipal Year, and (B) Dan White being invited to attend meetings of the Committee as and when appropriate, in connection with the consideration of issues regarding sexual exploitation; and




(ii)            the Director of Children and Families to provide more detailed information for all Members of the Council on the Amber Project, contextualised safeguarding and signs of safety.


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