Manchester

Ofsted report: Rochdale answers child sex abuse 'failings'

Rochdale skyline Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rochdale was singled out for the way it shares information with other agencies

The director of children's services at Rochdale Council has defended criticism over the way the authority handles child sexual exploitation (CSE) cases.

A report by Ofsted looked at eight councils including Rochdale and found children at risk from council failings.

Gail Hopper said Rochdale's "partnership approach" had led to more CSE prosecutions.

Ofsted praised the sharing of information between departments and agencies, but said concerns remained.

The authority's introduction of a single point of contact had "radically changed" the way information is shared across departments, the report said.

Safeguard young people

Rochdale's appointment of a dedicated disclosure officer had contributed to "a number of successful prosecutions and had helped to disrupt the activities of other perpetrators".

Ms Hopper said: "Something as complex as child sexual exploitation is not an issue that any single agency can deal with themselves," she said.

The report said the council's use of powers to enter properties where children are though to be at risk has resulted in 12 arrests and the closure of three licensed premises in the town.

"We take out a number of people - it might involve the fire service, housing officers, immigration officers, people from our specialist child sexual exploitation team - and they go out and do hits in areas where they have received intelligence that there may be problems," said Ms Hopper.

"We're quite clear that if we can get people off the streets, that may safeguard more young people."

Councils 'too slow'

The Ofsted report was commissioned to build a clearer picture of how well local authorities and partners are working to prevent child sexual exploitation in their area, to offer protection to its victims, and to pursue and prosecute its abusers.

It looked at Rotherham, Rochdale, Oldham, Brent, Bristol, Camden, Kent and Luton.

The report found that CSE has not been treated as the priority it should have been and that councils "had been too slow to face up to their responsibilities".

Not one of the eight authorities was found to be responding to child sexual exploitation consistently well.

In December 2013, a serious case review by the Rochdale Safeguarding Children Board into the Rochdale grooming scandal highlighted failures by 17 agencies who were meant to protect the children.

Police and social workers failed the girls who were "passed around for sex" by a gang of men, it said.

It criticised Rochdale Social Services for a lack of organisational priority over child sexual exploitation, an unstable duty and assessment team and a "chaotic" duty system.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites