5% of 11–17 year olds have experienced Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). This equates to around 50 children in every secondary school in England and Wales. To combat this, the Government recently published its “Tackling CSE Progress Report”, which sets out a range of measures introduced since 2015.
Statistics are encouraging:
- 1’000 more offenders were convicted in 2015 compared with 2014.
- Recordings of sexual abuse offences increased by 24% in 2015/16 compared with 2014/15 (a 130% increase from 2011/12).
Even though recorded offences actually increased, this is seen as a positive step forward due to the underreported nature of CSE.
The report explains that “Local partnerships are now consistently prioritising CSE and are empowered to radically improve their practice.” It also refers to reducing “the risk of children falling through the gaps between services.”
The Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation (RISE) unit in Northamptonshire is a multi-agency team that prevents and protects young people from CSE. It includes youth workers, police officers, social care workers and various professionals within health and education.
The RISE team meet daily to discuss recent CSE-related crimes, current missing children and specific concerns raised by other professionals. Each month, RISE assesses around 20 referrals to identify which are high risk.
When RISE accepts an individual, a family support worker will contact them and look to reduce their vulnerability. Any subsequent criminal investigations are then handled by the unit’s police officers.
Closing the gaps with E-CINS
There’s a colossal amount of activity and administration surrounding each case. Without the right technology, there’s a risk that individuals can “fall through the gaps between services” as highlighted by the Government’s report.
Through Empowering Communities, we provided the RISE team with our E-CINS system. This simple SaaS platform enables the various practitioners to securely share information, regardless of its original source. It also allows the police to search a national database containing profiles from several different agencies — many of which are not available on traditional police databases. E-CINS also records various trigger factors for each offender and sends automatic notifications on important CSE issues.
But critically, it helps the broader community in Northamptonshire to safeguard its most vulnerable children by providing a means for external organisations to check whether a child is already known to agencies. Configurable permissions allow specific groups to access particular information without comprising any sensitive material.
It’s reassuring that the Government advocates a multi-agency approach to tackling CSE. The ongoing work by the RISE team is further proof that collaboration is vital to overcome the considerable challenges associated with this hidden crime.