Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk Police and the Association of Chief Police Officer’s lead on child protection and abuse investigations, said that failures to share information and work together are hindering attempts by police and children’s social services to tackle child sexual exploitation.
“We genuinely need to ask ourselves the question: is our current operating model sustainable? Multi-agency safeguarding hubs and joint enterprise akin to them are now appearing and becoming embedded across policing, social services and health across the country, but they are not everywhere.
I’m still concerned by the fact we have police officers and social workers still operating in isolation. To me that just doesn’t make sense. We have got to get to the point whereby we start recognising that we are there to tackle a shared endeavour, we have victims at the heart of everything we do and we need to think about how we start deploying resources from our perspective in a different manner.”
Bailey gave an example from his own county of police not being notified of the presence of two young women in local authority care in Norfolk. “They both ended up running away and became continuing victims of abuse. That is a real weakness in our system. I accept we’re all busy, but we have to start thinking very differently about this. We have to deliver and develop sustainable solutions because this is not going away. We have got to deploy our resources perhaps in a different manner and the focus we put on the deployment of those resources has to look different.”
Alan Wood, president of the ADCS, said that agencies are only at the “very beginning” of understanding the “complexity, breadth and depth” of CSE. He highlighted partnership working as one of a number of areas where work is required.
“There are still too many of us going around thinking that partnership working is about you listening to what I have to tell you and very rarely do we come forward and say ‘what is it that we should be doing to be working better together’ and ‘let me tell you about what we are doing’. We still think ‘if only health did this’ or ‘if only health did that’. We must move beyond that.”