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Question by Brian Clark to Peter Oakford, Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services

December 19, 2014 7:52 PM

With the backdrop of the Child Sex Scandal in Rotherham and the release of Ofsted's report "The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn't happen here could it", Debbie Jones, Ofsted's National Director for Social Care, said it "cannot be acceptable that local authorities and partners are still failing to grasp and deal with abuse effectively". She stated, "We are calling on all local authorities and their partners to ensure that they have a comprehensive multi-agency strategy and action plan in place to tackle child sexual exploitation,"

In light of these comments and recent events, can the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children's Services say what steps is KCC taking to ensure it is not an authority considered to be failing to face up to its responsibilities in preventing child sexual exploitation.

Answer

Thank you for your question and I would like to assure Members that this authority takes child sexual exploitation very seriously. As Members may know, following the well documented exploitation of children in Rochdale and elsewhere, Ofsted undertook a Child Sexual Exploitation thematic inspection which included Kent. Although not an assessed inspection, this has confirmed both our areas of good practice and those that make sense to strengthen further.

Ofsted described the recent major multi-agency operation in Kent as a highly impressive child focussed piece of work, that was well resourced and with strong cross agency information sharing. The quality of the Kent and Medway multi-agency Child Sexual Exploitation Strategy was also recognised.

However I, the officers and our partners are not complacent. We are continuing to raise standards by ensuring return interviews for children who go missing are of consistently high quality and that trends are carefully analysed across agencies. The Kent Children's Safeguarding Board has also raised the priority of dealing with Child Sexual Exploitation. Additionally the multi-agency training on exploitation is now mandatory for all our staff who work directly with children and young people.