Sunderland children board chair thinks city needs to do more to tackle child sexual exploitation

Sunderland City Council’s Safeguarding Children Board Independent Chair Jane Held opening the NSPCC Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Conference on 22/11/16/photo by: Sophie Dishman.
Sunderland City Council’s Safeguarding Children Board Independent Chair Jane Held opening the NSPCC Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Conference on 22/11/16/photo by: Sophie Dishman.

Sunderland City Council’s Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) Independent chair,Jane Held, has said she does not think “anyone in the city is doing enough” to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE) and child sexual abuse (CSA).

It came as Ms Held opened the NSPCC’s Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Conference on November 22 at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus.

The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Conference at Bede Campus at Sunderland College today (22/11/16)/photo by Sophie Dishman.
The Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Conference at Bede Campus at Sunderland College today (22/11/16)/photo by Sophie Dishman.

Ms Held said: “I don’t think anyone in the city could be said to be doing enough but they’re all trying very hard to do enough.

“There will never be an end to what’s enough because the more we do, the more we understand, the more we have to do.”

However, Ms Held praised the city’s council for doing “a really good job” in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse.

She also spoke about the SSCB which is made up of professionals from the NHS, police, probation services and the local authority who work together to regulate and coordinate how people provide services together for children in Sunderland and how well they do it.

Ms Held added the SSCB were working together to tackle child safeguarding issues.

“My job is to make sure that all of the senior leaders do actually work together, sometimes knock heads together, sometimes get them to be really creative and work together in different ways to make sure that they use their collective resources to the best effect.

“I think they’re moving very fast towards a much better place [in working together].

The city’s Safeguarding Children Board (SSCB) was set up more than a decade ago following the drive to improve outcomes for children in Sunderland.

Councillor Louise Farthing, portfolio holder for children’s services at Sunderland City Council said: “CSE is a growing issue nationally, and while there is always more that can be done, it’s an area where we have made significant progress in Sunderland which we are continuing to build on.

“This has included delivering CSE training to 250 taxi drivers and mini bus drivers over the last year to encourage them to act as the eyes and ears of the community spotting vulnerable young people at risk of being exploited, implementing a missing children protocol with Northumbria Police and work in every Sunderland school to raise young people’s awareness of exploitative relationships.”

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