16.3 Roles and Responsibilities of LSCBs and individual organisations (Pathway)
Last updated 12/11/2018
Roles and Responsibilities of LSCBs and individual organisations (Pathway)
The Statutory CSE Guidance requires agencies to work together to:
- Develop local prevention strategies;
- Identify those at risk of sexual exploitation;
- Take action to safeguard and promote the welfare of particular children and young people who may be sexually exploited: and
- Take action against those intent on abusing and exploiting children and young people in this way.
In doing so, the key principles should be:
A child-centred approach
Action should be focused on the child's needs, including consideration of children with particular needs or sensitivities, and the fact that children do not always acknowledge what may be an exploitative or abusive situation;
A proactive approach
This should be focused on prevention, early identification and intervention as well as disrupting activity and prosecuting perpetrators;
Parenting, family life, and services.
Taking account of family circumstances in deciding how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people;
The rights of children and young people
Children and young people are entitled to be safeguarded from sexual exploitation just as agencies have duties in respect of safeguarding and promoting welfare;
Responsibility for criminal acts
Sexual exploitation of children and young people should not be regarded as criminal behaviour on the part of the child or young person, but as child sexual abuse. The responsibility for the sexual exploitation of children lies with the abuser and the focus of police investigations should be on those who coerce, exploit and abuse children and young people;
An integrated approach
Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out a tiered approach to safeguarding: universal, targeted and responsive. Within this, sexual exploitation requires a three-pronged approach tackling prevention, protection and prosecution;
A shared responsibility
The need for effective joint working between different agencies and professionals underpinned by a strong commitment from managers, a shared understanding of the problem of sexual exploitation and effective coordination by the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
The Statutory CSE Guidance requires that all Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) ensure their policies and procedures regarding sexual exploitation reflect their local areas. Particular procedures should specify:
- How to identify signs of sexual exploitation;
- How professionals can seek help and advice on this issue;
- How professionals should share information within government guidelines;
- The establishment of Lead Professionals in the key agencies, the routes for referring concerns and how concerns about sexual exploitation relate to thresholds for referral to Children's Social Care;
- How professionals can work together to deliver disruption plans;
- How professional can gather and preserve the integrity of evidence about perpetrators of sexual exploitation;
- The process and possible responses for supporting children and young people identified at being at risk of sexual exploitation;
- How to work with other local authority areas where children who have been sexually exploited are thought to have lived;
- How to deal with issues relating to migrant children in situations which make them vulnerable to sexual exploitation;
- How to manage situations of sexual exploitation through the use of technology such as the internet.
Sefton LSCB has a CSE Strategy Implementation Plan which ensures all elements of the PAN Merseyside CSE Strategy are implemented in Sefton. The Sefton LSCB CSE Strategy on a Page sets out the priorities under the 4 headings;
LSCBs should ensure there is a dedicated lead person in each partner organisation with responsibility for implementing the government guidance and that work in its area with children and young people who have been or are likely to be sexually exploited is coordinated.
In Sefton each agency has an identified dedicated CSE Single Point of Contact (SPoC) who is responsible for ensuring their staff are aware of the LSCB CSE Partnership Pathway and that all staff work in accordance with the pathway to Protect children from sexual exploitation and Prosecute offenders (Sefton LSCB Business Unit maintain a list of all agency SPoCs).
Sefton LSCB CSE Partnership Pathway
Child sexual exploitation takes place in local communities and information known to the full spectrum of statutory and voluntary sector agencies should be used to highlight the threat and establish and reduce risk. An improved intelligence picture will enable effective action in a greater number of cases of child sexual exploitation, thereby reducing the harm that would otherwise be caused to the young victims and their families.
Specific to Health organisations The Department of Health (2014) Health Working Group Report on CSE highlighted the following key points:
- Sexual offences legislation in the UK assumes that children under 13 do not have the capacity to consent to sexual activity. The legal age for children to consent to sex is 16. Children under the age of 16 are unlikely to be prosecuted for mutually agreed sexual activity where there is no evidence of exploitation.
- Child sexual exploitation is a safeguarding matter. There is a strong need to improve health professionals’ understanding of child sexual exploitation so that they can better protect victims and support their recovery.
- Sexually exploited children are significantly more likely to self-harm or attempt suicide, as well as being more prone to suffer depression and mental health issues, abuse alcohol and drugs, and have low self-esteem.
- Better evidence on the health consequences of child sexual exploitation is needed. Wherever possible organisations involved in tackling child sexual exploitation should collect data to support the case for a better response from health services.
- Consent: There is emerging evidence that professionals are not taking appropriate action because children are seen as consenting to sexual activity. The age of consent is 16. Staff need a better understanding that any sexual activity involving children under 16 is unlawful, and that power imbalances in a relationship, even for those over 16, can lead to a child not being free to give or decline consent.
- Local CSE Pathway needs to be known and understood by health professionals in order for them to have the confidence to act to safeguard children.
- Information sharing: the significance of warning signs and indicators often only becomes clear when agencies pool their information. All health professional s should be confident in carrying out their duty to safeguard sexually exploited children by knowing when and how to share information, even without consent.
- NHS organisations and staff should manage information in a way that is open and transparent to safeguard children who may be at risk of exploitation. Staff should be clear that safeguarding concerns override the usual requirements for confidentiality.
- Health professionals caring for looked after children have a crucial role in identifying children at risk of, or experiencing, CSE and responding appropriately to safeguard them.
- Staff should be open to the possibility of disclosure but act to safeguard the child whether or not there is a disclosure.