Shock toll of child sexual exploitation in Doncaster

Interim director of children's services Eleanor Brazil.
Interim director of children's services Eleanor Brazil.

Shocking figures of suspected child sexual exploitation cases have been revealed by Doncaster Council.

A staggering 197 individual cases were referred in the last year alone, and a call has been made for a thorough investigation to be made into the matter. A referral means cases which were called to be investigated - and not all these will result in an offence being carried out.

The news comes on the back of the Rotherham Council revelations when an independent investigation discovered the local authority was “not fit for purpose” due to significant concerns about practice and culture in dealing with child sexual exploitation.

A report to members of DMBC’s Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel yesterday stated: “Current data relating to referrals and casework with children and young people who are victims of CSE indicates that between 1st January 2014 and 28th February 2015 Doncaster received 197 referrals with the reason for concern listed as ‘Sexual Exploitation’.

“Of those referrals, 146 (74.11%) are now classed as completed or finalised (closed) while the remaining 51 (25.89%) are classed as allocated or pending (active). This is an increase of four in active cases compared with position at the end of November 2014.”

Councillor Paul Bissett, ward member for Edenthorpe Kirk Sandall and Barnby Dun, believes the council should carry out a thorough investigation into CSE and that South Yorkshire Police needs to “get its finger out” to address the problem.

He said about the meeting: “Although there were lots of facts and figures and back slapping I still think it’s a disgrace of the council not to allow an investigation into CSE that’s gone in the past to identify some of the perpetrators, what with the celebrities scandal and other areas.”

Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Police are now working together introducing a taxi licensing scheme - 800 taxi drivers are being required to attend CSE awareness raising and training. All takeaways are to be visited to discuss the issues surrounding child sexual exploitation. It is planned to develop a training package for all those involved in working in such establishments.

Coun Bissett added: “It’s okay having these council meetings but it’s up to South Yorkshire Police to get their finger out and stop it at ground level.”

Eleanor Brazil (pictured) - director of learning and opportunities: children and young people said: “Child Sexual Exploitation is an appalling crime. We are committed to supporting survivors and are determined to ensure that perpetrators face justice, no matter when the abuse took place.

“Historic issues with children’s services in Doncaster have been thoroughly examined through reports, investigations and a Government intervention. We have also recently looked at the issue of CSE. For these reasons we do not consider it necessary to undertake a historical review at this time.

“However, we fully understand the major impact that child abuse has on people and we would urge anyone who has suffered to come forward and speak to us about their experiences if they wish to. We will be sympathetic, offer support to help meet their needs and if they want to report their case we will ensure that it is properly and thoroughly investigated.”

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and bringing offenders to justice is a priority. We treat CSE with the utmost sensitivity and would urge anyone who has concerns about a child who could be at risk to come forward. We are now operating with a deeper understanding of child sexual exploitation.

“We are acutely aware of the grooming process and the impact it has.”

For full details of the police CSE investigation and findings, including convictions, visit www.southyorks.police.uk/spotthesigns