Stoke & Staffordshire

Child sexual exploitation: 43 at risk in Staffordshire

Forty three children have been identified as being at risk of sexual exploitation across Staffordshire.

The figure has been revealed as the county council conducts a review of how it has been dealing with the issue.

The authority said partnerships are working well but improvement is needed around the best way to respond once potential victims are identified.

Last month, neighbouring council Stoke-on-Trent said 27 youngsters were targeted in 2013 and 78 were at risk.

The review has been requested by Staffordshire County Council's Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee.

It is an annual update on progress made tackling child sexual exploitation, trafficking and is also in response to the recent Rotherham child abuse scandal where at least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation.

'Abhorrent crime'

The review said council-run Families First has been carrying out an an independent audit of children recognised in September 2014 as having been previously or currently at risk of sexual exploitation. The children are known to local support teams and safeguarding units.

"This audit is nearly complete and early findings indicate that work at the early stage of cases between partner agencies is good. Forty-three children have been identified as currently at risk of child sexual exploitation," the report said.

The select committee will receive a full update on the review on 15 December.

Chairman John Francis, said: "Since 2011 the council and its partners have done a great deal to understand and combat child sexual exploitation.

"However no-one is complacent about this abhorrent crime and as our knowledge and understanding of it evolves, so too do the methods we use to protect children and target those who prey on them.

"This committee has regularly looked at this issue in recent years to ensure everyone is working together effectively and this month's meeting is the latest step in that process."

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