What have we being doing about Child Exploitation in Calderdale?

The Multi Agency CSE Hub was set up in 2014. This was to ensure that there is a robust response to children in Calderdale who are at risk of or have been sexually exploited. The Hub has continued to expand and develop following internal and external serious case reviews and learning from other organisations. There was a CSE Operational Sub Group that met bi-monthly which is represented by a number of agencies where the CSE processes and the Calderdale CSE Action Plan was reviewed.

A recommendation from Ofsted was to: ‘Expand the role of the CSE Team to include other vulnerabilities such as Child Criminal Exploitation – April 2019’.

There is now a draft plan about how Calderdale will consider contextual safeguarding. However, Child Sexual Exploitation, Child Criminal Exploitation, Child Trafficking and Child Modern day Slavery are now supported by the Child Exploitation Team.

The CE Hub is based at Halifax Police station. There is a Team Manager from Children’s Social Care (CSC) and two Social Workers who complete statutory social work, assessments, planning under Child in Need, Child Protection and Children Looked After processes and procedures and support other Social Workers in the Local Authority with CE.   Two Project Workers from Children’s Social Care who hold cases that are allocated to a social worker or are the lead workers, complete 1-1 direct work with children, provide group work sessions and provide drop in services.  There is a Detective Sergeant and three Detective Constables from the Police who undertake Child Protection investigations, manage CE hotspots and perpetrators.  One worker from Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE) who are a commissioned services by the Local Authority who work with and support parents and carers.

Referrals to The CE Team are made to MAST (Multi Agency Screening Team) Children identified at risk are placed on the MACE assessment list and a CE risk assessment is completed by the team. If a CE risk assessment is completed and the child is deemed at on-going risk of CE at the MACE meeting which is held on a Monday then the child is discussed at the weekly CE Matrix meeting on a Friday.

The case will be reviewed by the Multi-Agency Hub to decide whether the child should be placed on Calderdale’s CE Matrix. The Matrix is a record of children that are deemed at current risk of CE and need to be reviewed and managed at a high level. We use a traffic light system which identifies the level of risk, Green (low), Amber (medium) and Red (high). Multi-Agency plans will be implemented for these children and they are reviewed at the weekly Matrix meeting.

When a child is placed on the Matrix, consideration is given as to whether the child has been subject to human trafficking and if a referral to the National Referral Mechanism is required. The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.

At the weekly Matrix meeting there is a wider attendance and information sharing with other relevant agencies. These include Health (health services are provided by different providers commissioned by public health and the CCG), Sexual Health, CAMHS, Drug and Alcohol Services, Youth Services, Housing and Residential units. Engagement is crucial from an information sharing point of view as it ensures that all agencies are aware of information to assist in minimising risk to our young people and optimising their safeguarding. Multi agency care planning and decisions are made along with the child’s statutory case planning. For example the child would usually be on a Child in Need plan with a Social Work lead.

Children who are at risk and are placed in Calderdale by other Local Authorities are discussed at the Friday Matrix meeting. They are usually placed on the Calderdale’s CE Matrix and reviewed. The management and responsibility of those cases/children remains with the Local Authority that places the child. However, there will be links with the Hub and the Police would attend any relevant meetings. If the children are within the West Yorkshire Police area then it is agreed the Police and Social Care will continue to manage those cases. If there is a risk of CE whilst in Calderdale then the child would be placed on Calderdale’s CE Matrix and Calderdale Police will investigate the crimes in their area.

The CE Hub ethos is to ensure children are fully supported. Perseverance is often required when working with this complex and challenging case work. The Hub has seen lots of positive changes from the interventions used.

For more information, see documents below: