For release 14:00, 24 March 2016.
STATEMENT FROM BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL
John Readman, Strategic Director for People, Bristol City Council said,
“This truly awful case highlights how children can become subjected to sexual exploitation far too easily. All Bristol City Council staff working in this area take their responsibilities very, very seriously so it has been particularly valuable to hear the victims voices in the Serious Case Review report. We are sorry for their experiences and their voices will help guide us and our colleagues in partner agencies on how we support victims and hopefully help us all spot the signs of a child being sexually exploited much earlier in future. Our aim is to work with children and families to prevent it happening.
“I am also grateful to both Safeguarding Children Boards for this very thorough report and its clear recommendations. We have not waited to act on these and many of the suggested improvements are already in place.
“Much of what is identified has already been addressed by the implementation of the Bristol Safeguarding Children Board Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Strategy and our continuing work with Barnardo’s BASE service and Bristol-based sexual health service 4YP.
“Many of the report findings focus on wider issues with national guidance and systems of responding to CSE concerns. Whilst the report does point to issues with identifying the signs of CSE, this is an area we have identified for improvement and have already taken steps to increase training offered by specialists from Barnardo’s and 4YP as well as our own social workers. Our work also extends into schools to ensure that teachers and school staff are equipped with the tools they need to better respond to the concerns of CSE.
“Social workers and other professionals in the city worked to the highest professional standards on this case and we are grateful to have such a dedicated team serving the people of Bristol. The 2014 Ofsted thematic inspection into local authority responses to CSE praised our social workers’ persistence and ‘don’t give up approach’. This praise was bolstered by encouraging feedback from children and young people in Bristol, saying they felt listened to and were positive about the support they receive.
“Safeguarding is everybody’s business, particularly those who work with children and young people. We can never remove risk completely but sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime and we are committed to working with our partners and families to prevent and tackle sexual exploitation in all its forms.”