The Board received a report from the Strategic Director, Children and Enterprise which outlined an update on the development of the Missing from Home and Care Service and Child Sexual Exploitation activity.
It was reported that in 2010 and 2011 the Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCB’S) of Cheshire, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington with Cheshire Constabulary, collaborated to produce a Pan-Cheshire Joint Protocol for Children and Young People who ran away or went missing from Home or Care. The joint protocol sought to identify and manage the risks and ensure a consistency in approach across borders and agencies. This protocol was subsequently adopted by the Merseyside LSCB’s.
It was noted that the protocol had been revised in April 2014 to take in account new definitions concerning children who went missing which now had 3 classifications, absence, missing and away from placement without authorisation. The new protocol also defined agencies roles and responsibilities including the collation and analysis of data to assist with trends around missing but to also make links to Child Sexual Exploitation and trafficking.
Members were advised that the four Cheshire Local Authorities had agreed to go ahead with a joint missing from home/care commissioned service with Halton being the lead authority. Catch 22 were the successful provider and started in 2012.
It was reported that the coalition government had identified child sexual exploitation as a key focus of its policy, publishing the Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Group Action Plan. This followed a campaign by Barnardo’s, to increase the profile of this underreported area of child abuse and Barnardo’s contacted elected Members directly to encourage individual and local authorities sign up to the “Cut them free” campaign. Halton had signed up to this campaign.
Members were further advised that a Pan-Cheshire MFH and CSE Strategic Group had been established by the Police. This group had produced a Pan-Cheshire CSE Strategy and Protocol wich each LSCB had approved. The strategy had recently been amended to include the Merseyside LSCBs, and the Strategic Group had also provided an action Plan that reflected the areas to be addressed under the government’s Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan. Outlined in the report were the Action Plan points.
The report further set out the current picture of Missing from Home and Care, the current picture of Child Sexual Exploitation and next steps in the form of preventative measures and working closely with the licensing department.
Arising from discussion of the report Members highlighted the dangers of social media and network sites, and were informed of targeted work across primary schools. The Board queried whether there was an issue of trafficking of young people across Halton. In response it was noted that there was no evidence of this at the moment in Halton. In addition Members requested that the zcards and posters with the helpline be circulated.
1. the positive developments in the Missing from Home and Care Service be noted; and
2. the pro-active response to Child Sexual Exploitation be noted.