Probe into Doncaster child sex exploitation launched

Child abuse is being tackled in Doncaster.
Child abuse is being tackled in Doncaster.

A review is under way into the way social services and police in Doncaster deal with children at risk of child sex abuse.

An internal probe is being carried out at Doncaster Council to investigate the way the authority deals with youngsters under threat of child sexual exploitation.

A report will be presented to the authority next week focusing on the state of children’s services in Doncaster. The probe comes ahead of the transfer of children’s services in the town to an independent trust.

The review is being undertaken by the council’s safeguarding children board following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which revealed failings in the way children in residential care and at risk of sexual exploitation are dealt with.

The report also comes just three weeks after South Yorkshire Police came under fire over handling of child sex abuse in nearby Rotherham after a separate report estimated there had been 1,400 victims in the town between 1997 and 2013.

Details of the investigation are revealed in a report which will be discussed by the council at the town’s Civic Offices next Thursday.

The study states that an HMIC inspection of South Yorkshire Police’s work on safeguarding children - carried out in May but yet to be published - discovered “failings” in the way the council and police had responded to the cases of “a small number of children” in a Doncaster Council children’s home.

The report reveals that prior to January this year, there was no dedicated team dealing with child sexual exploitation in the town - but that new measures and saefeguards have been introduced with specialist police officers and care experts brought in to tackle the problem under one umbrella.

It added: “Since the inspection, we have reviewed the way we work together and have focused attention on improving our response to concerns around child sexual exploitation.”

Measures have also been drawn up to devote more resources and staff to the problem, with an additional three social workers and a team manager set to be brought in on a permanent basis to work alongside police and social and public health workers.

Funding for an additional three social worker posts and a team manager post has been agreed - but the posts are yet to be filled permanently.

The report concluded: “Whilst not all children who go missing from care are linked to involvement in child sexual exploitation, it is the case that such children are often vulnerable to this. In the past year we have tightened our processes in relation to missing children.

“Children’s services work very closely with the police and with a voluntary organisation Safe at Last to find children as quickly as possible, to ensure they are safe, and to provide support to try to prevent them going missing again.”

The study, by director of children’s services Eleanor Brazil, says that good progress is being made in overhauling the department, but said there were still areas for improvement including introducing a long-term response to children at risk of sexual exploitation.