A NEW support services to help children at risk of being sexually exploited in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and those who go missing, will be set-up.
Work is underway on the new county-wide support services, which are due to start in 2017. The new services will see for the first-time a multi-agency approach to tackle the sexual exploitation of children. Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire discussed the plans at a Police and Crime Panel meeting this week.
Mr Ellis said that the approach was “unique and would remove the inadvertent postcode lottery for these services across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent”.
The two new services will provide a consistent approach instead of ad hoc, fragmented provisions in place.
The Targeted Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Service will assess the needs of the child and put in place care programmes and one-to-one support for victims and their families.
The Missing Service will provide de-briefing interviews with every child who goes missing in Staffordshire to understand why they went missing and what support is needed to stop them going missing again. This service aims to ensure the children get the support they need.
The new services, when launched in 2017, will ensure, wherever people live in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, they have access to consistent, high quality services.
A Multi-agency Joint Commissioning Group, established by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, has launched the project to create these support services.
Matthew Ellis, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Staffordshire, said: “For the first time this will provide a consistent approach to tackling these issues and supporting victims, no matter where you live in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
“Making sure that different services across our area work together to provide better services which are cost effective has been a priority in the strategy I set out in 2013.
“This has been an immensely complex piece of work to pull together but is a defining moment in the provision of properly joined up, effective services which offer better value for public money.”
Louise Rees, Director of Children’s, Adults and Family Services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “This is the first time we have worked across city and county boundaries to jointly commission a standard, high quality approach to support children and young people across the whole of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. This will build on existing good practice in both councils to develop the model for these services. Agencies will then be asked to submit proposals to provide this vital support for children and young people who go missing with a targeted support service for those affected by child sexual exploitation (CSE).”
Engagement days with agencies will take place as part of work to develop the model for the two new services that will launch in 2017.
Mike Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Children and Community Safety for Staffordshire County Council, said: “Keeping children and young people safe across Staffordshire demands a joined up approach from councils, the police and the communities we serve. Strengthening our partnership approach to support more young people and to help them grow up free from fear of harm or exploitation is a real step forward. It also builds on recent work, such as the ongoing CSE awareness campaign taking place across the county.”
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, for the first time, has funded a CSE Co-ordinator role to deliver effective, joined-up multi-agency response to prevention and disruption of CSE in Staffordshire.
Supporting victims and witnesses is one of four priorities in Mr Ellis’ Safer, Fairer United Communities strategy for more local, effective policing and community safety in the county.
The Police and Crime Commissioner is also supporting and highlighting a campaign taking place across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to raise awareness about CSE and its signs to help combat the crime. The campaign website is: www.knowaboutcse.co.uk.
A Staffordshire-wide leadership group called CSAF (Child Sexual Abuse Forum) continues to meet to oversee a consistent approach to this agenda.