Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility.

Child abuse, exploitation and neglect don’t just damage young lives, they destroy promising futures before they even get a chance to be lived.

At Torbay Children’s Services, the fight against this has gone up several gears with a new Exploitation Team firmly established to understand the picture of exploitation in Torbay, and to continue to develop processes and tools to enhance understanding of exploitation and more importantly the responses to children who are victims of exploitation.

A new Child Exploitation Toolkit has enabled us and multi-agency partners to address contextual safeguarding concerns including Child Sexual Exploitation, Child Criminal Exploitation (including gang involvement) and Trafficking.

Since the introduction of the new toolkit in November 2019, Torbay has recorded a significant increase in children at risk of Child Criminal Exploitation, with 66 young people being identified as being at risk between January 2020 and February 2021 (up from 6 young people in 2019). This increase is attributed to the introduction of the revised toolkit, which for the first time included assessing children for risk of criminal exploitation. It evidences that children previously were not being identified as at risk of child criminal exploitation, and is not indicative of a sudden and very significant increase in child criminal exploitation in Torbay in the last twelve months.

In terms of children assessed as at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), numbers have remained consistent. In January 2020 there were 57 children identified as at risk of CSE, as of the end of February 2021 there were 63 children identified, all of whom were being supported by key agencies. A further seven children have been referred to the Home Office via the National Referral Mechanism.

Missing and Exploitation multi-agency forums are in place for all safeguarding partners to be able to respond to identified risks, address any potential barriers regarding exploitation or missing episodes.

An Exploitation Strategy and associated plan of activity is in development which will clearly outline our intent and approach, using the 4Ps; Prepare, Pursue, Protect and Prevent.

We have also been accepted as one of a number of local authorities to receive support from ‘Research into Practice’ to develop a strategy to support children identified as at risk of exploitation as they approach their eighteenth birthday.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said; “Child exploitation isn’t just an issue for big towns and cities, it’s a very real issue even for the towns that make up Torbay. With children and young people spending more time inside and online due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, sadly criminals are taking advantage of this. Exploitation commonly occurs through the use of technology, often without the child’s immediate recognition. 

Our multi-agency approach promotes better identification of issues and allows for more cross area working to share information and best practice. Reducing the risk, vulnerability and impact for all individuals affected by exploitation”.

To ensure a dedicated and focused political oversight on Torbay’s Children’s Services a Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Board has been established to challenge all issues relating to children and young people to help to continue to improve the delivery of services. This positive move, supported by the Department for Education Commissioner will ensure that children and young people remained at the heart of the service.

Children and young people can be exploited in many different ways. Knowing the signs and where to seek further information are key to keeping children and young people safe. For more information visit www.torbaysafeguarding.org.uk.

Worried about a child?

If you feel a child is in immediate danger, please call 999.

If you are worried about a child please call the Torbay Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01803 208100 or email mash@torbay.gov.uk. Out of hours please call 0300 4564 876.


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