Posted: Friday 26th June 2015
In December last year Sue Mountstevens (alongside her Wiltshire counterpart Angus Macpherson) submitted a bid to the Home Office for funding from the Police Innovation Fund. The bid was to enable partners in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire to provide a specialist Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) victim identification and support service across our local authority and police force boundaries. After the hard work that had been done by the team in submitting our bit we were all delighted to hear in March that that we’d been successful and that the project was being funded for two years.
Why choose this service?
We felt this was an important service for us to bid for because child sexual exploitation is an area which affects young victims and can ruin their childhoods. For those not familiar with the term, CSE is the sexual and physical abuse and habitual rape of children. This is done by manipulating and gaining control over those who cannot consent to sex either by virtue of their age or incapacity. Over recent years we’ve all become more aware of this crime through the media reporting of cases such as those in Rotherham where it is estimated that there had been 1,400 child victims.
A review of these crimes has thrown up many issues concerning why they went undetected or unchallenged for many years. This has caused partner organisations, in local authority areas across the country, to consider how their own child safeguarding processes can work better to detect, prevent and disrupt abuse and prosecute the individuals responsible.
Last October the PCC held a summit for partners across Avon and Somerset to discuss the findings of the Jay report into CSE at Rotherham. It was recognised that there is already a lot of good work being done across our area but that we need more cross border and multi-agency working and sharing of intelligence and a consistent support service for victims. Thanks to our bid we can now try an innovative approach to try and put this into practice.
How much funding do we have?
The Home Office funding is for just over £1.1 Million over the two year period and this has been match funded by contributions from the seven local authorities in the area, the Avon and Somerset PCC, the Wiltshire PCC and Barnardo’s. This means we will be jointly investing £2.1 million to tackle CSE in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire.
What have we done so far?
The Senior Responsible Officer and Support Officer have been appointed, Dave McCallum and Andri Nicolaou. They has been actively meeting with partners across the bid area, building our plans for working together and sharing information and agreeing how we govern the new service.
Barnardo’s, who have already been working successfully in Bristol with partners providing specialist CSE support, have increased their staff to deploy support workers in each local authority area across Avon and Somerset. They have also appointed a specialist trainer to deliver a multi-agency ‘Train the Trainer’ package to the children and young people work force.
On the 21st May the PCC and the PCC from Wiltshire held a meeting with partners from local authorities, Health, Barnardos, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Wiltshire Police. At this meeting we discussed proposals for the new service plus ideas and suggestions for taking the service forward. There was a clear commitment and support from all at the meeting for working together to ensure that the principles of Prevent, Protect and Pursue are at the heart of this work.
- Prevent – More children are prevented from becoming victims of CSE
- Protect – More victims of CSE are identified, safeguarded and supported to help them overcome the physical and emotional consequences of abuse
- Pursue – More perpetrators and brought to justice.
I’m sure you will agree that this is a very important piece of partnership working aimed at the protection and interests of those children who are most in need of our help.
Senior Commissioning Officer
Avon and Somerset Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner