SEFTON SCP Safeguarding Policies and Procedures Online Manual

    16.5 Managing individual cases

    Last updated 12/11/2018

    Managing individual cases

    Please click on the link below to access Sefton LSCB CSE Partnership Pathway document

    Sefton LSCB Partnership Pathway

    Identification of Risk and Possible Indicators

    Anyone who has regular contact with children is in a good position to notice changes in behaviour and physical signs that may indicate involvement in sexual exploitation. They should also know how to monitor online spaces and be prepared to request access reports where they are suspicious that a child is being groomed online. The fact that a young person is 16 or 17 years old should not be taken as a sign they are no longer at risk of sexual exploitation.

    The factors below are recognised as factors linked to sexual exploitation. It is not an exhaustive list and each indicator is not in itself proof of involvement. Concerns should increase the more indicators that are present. They are:

    Health - physical symptoms e.g. bruising, chronic fatigue, recurring or multiple sexually transmitted infections; pregnancy and/or seeking an abortion; evidence of drug, alcohol or substance misuse; sexually risky behaviour;

    Education - truancy; disengagement with education; considerable change in performance at school;

    Emotional and behavioural development - volatile behaviour exhibiting extreme array of mood swings or use of abusive language; involvement in petty crime; secretive behaviour; entering or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults;

    Identity - low self-image; low self-esteem; self-harm; eating disorder; promiscuity;

    Family and social relationships - hostility in relationship with parents, carers and/or other family members; physical aggressions towards parents, siblings, pets, teachers or peers; placement breakdown; detachment from age appropriate activities; association with other young people who are known to be sexually exploited; sexual relationship with a significantly older person; unexplained relationships with older adults (e.g. through letters, texts, internet links); staying out overnight or returning late with no plausible explanation; persistently missing or missing with no known home base; returning after having been missing looking well cared for with no known home base; going missing and being found in an area where the child has no known links;

    Social presentation - change in appearance; leaving home in clothing unusual for the child e.g. inappropriate for age;

    Parental capacity - family history of parental neglect or abuse;

    Family and environmental factors - family history of domestic violence and abuse; pattern of homelessness;

    Income - possession of large amounts of money with no plausible explanation; acquisition of expensive clothes, mobile phones or other possessions without plausible explanation; accounts of social activities with no plausible explanation of the source of necessary funding;

    Family's social integration - reports that the child has been seen in places known to be used for sexual exploitation.

    Possible indicators specific to boys and young men are:

    Health - physical symptoms (e.g. bruising or sexually transmitted infections); drug or alcohol misuse; self-harm or eating disorders;

    Education - truancy, deterioration of school work or part-time timetable;

    Emotional and behavioural development - secretive e.g. about internet use; anti-social behaviour; sexualised language; sexually offending behaviour;

    Family and social relationships - associating with other children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation; missing from home or staying out late; getting into cares of unknown people; contact with adults outside normal social group;

    Identity - low self-esteem, poor self-image or lack of confidence;

    Social presentation - wearing an unusual amount of clothing;

    Income - social activities with no explanation of how funded; possession of abnormal amounts of money, gifts, new mobile phones, credit on mobile phone, number of SIM cards;

    Social integration - frequenting known high-risk areas or going to addresses of concern; seen at public toilets known for cottaging; seen at adult venues.

    As in all cases, concerns that a child may be at risk of sexual exploitation should be discussed with a manager and/or CSE SPoC or the organisational safeguarding lead and a decision made as to whether there should be a referral to the MASH.

    The wishes and feelings of the child or young person should be obtained when deciding how to proceed, but, practitioners should be aware that perpetrators may have groomed the child's responses.  It is clear that young people often do not recognise that they are being exploited and therefore a lack of consent to a referral, or, the lack of complaint being made by the young person to the Police, should not be barrier to referring concerns to the MASH. If a referral is not made to the MASH, a justification for this decision should be recorded on the child’s records.

    Where an agency is fearful of losing the engagement of a child or young person by reporting their concern to the MASH, the agency should discuss this with the MASH to agree a way forward. Any decision not to share information or refer a child should be recorded with a full explanation of the rationale behind that decision and the prevailing circumstances at that time. This will assist in future if there is a review of the case and the decision-making processes.

    See also Information Sharing – Advice for Practitioners providing safeguarding Services to Children, young people, parents and carers (HM Gov) March 2015


    When a decision to refer a CSE concern to the MASH is made practitioners should consult the CSE Pathway and urgently refer their concerns into Sefton’s Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) using the Professional Referral Form (click on the link to access the Professional Referral Form).

    When making a referral for CSE practitioners should also complete the CE Referral Form (CE1)

    Agencies have appointed a CSE Single Point of Contact (SPoCs) and practitioners are urged to consult the CSE SPoC within their service, if applicable, if they have any queries about making a CSE referral.  The SPoC will be able to guide the practitioner on these issues.  If you are not aware of who the agency CSE SPoC is you can contact the LSCB staff via 0151 934 4706 for this information.

    The CE Referral Form (CE1) should include as much information as possible, as this information informs the Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting/ Child Exploitation Case Discussion. The child's individual needs and circumstances must be carefully assessed and included on the CE 1 Referral Form, including ethnicity, gender, disability, mental health, self-harm, drug and/ or alcohol use and sexual orientation. This information is required to ensure analysis can be undertaken as to whether a specific group of children are being targeted for sexual exploitation.

    On receiving a Child Exploitation referral the MASH Customer Access Officer notifies the Child Exploitation Business Information Analyst, who then contacts the child’s allocated worker, if the child is already known to Early Help or Children’s Social Care, to identify if a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting is needed to be held on the information that has been referred to the MASH.

    If it is deemed that a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting is required the Child Exploitation Business Information Analyst will organise the meeting and invite professionals who are working with the child and their family. As a minimum this should include Children’s Social Care, the Police, a health representative and education representative. If a child is already known to Children’s Social Care and their social worker is already aware of the referred concern and this has already been addressed a further Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting would not be required.  Referring professionals should be informed of the reasons for this decision and will be asked to continue monitoring the child and refer any further Child Exploitation concerns, should they arise, to Sefton MASH. 

    When a Child Exploitation referral is received about a child who is not known to Children’s Social Care, the MASH will convene a Child Exploitation Case Discussion or a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting. A Child Exploitation Case discussion is convened where a potential indictor of potential exploitation concern has been raised and further information is required to inform a decision as to whether a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting is needed to be convened. A Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting is convened in all cases where there is clear evidence that a child is at risk of, or, is a victim of Child Exploitation.

    The difference between a Child Exploitation Case Discussion and a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting is that a Child Exploitation Case Discussion involves the partner agencies located within Sefton MASH, whereas a Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting involves a wider range of professionals that have direct involvement with the child and their family. Both form of meetings are chaired by either the MASH Team Manager, if the child is not currently known to Children’s Social Care, or a Social Care Team Manager who responsible for the Team the child is currently known to e.g. the Corporate Parenting Team Manager if the child is a ‘looked after child’ with a plan not to return to their family. 

    When a referral is received about a child who is not known to Children’s Social Care the referral MASH Researchers contact the referrer, the parents/carers of the child or young person, the child’s education setting, GP, Health Practitioners, SWACA (agency working with victims of domestic abuse), Probation, Lifeline, Police and Early Intervention and Prevention Services to ascertain further information about the child.

    Children's Social Care and the Police should consult and share information concerning incidents or suspicions of sexual exploitation within 24 hours. A decision should be made by the Police as to whether a criminal offence has been committed against a child or young person.

    If there is a clear indication of the identity of a possible / known perpetrator agencies who are known to work with this individual should be invited to the Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting to share information to pro-actively manage risk. All Child Exploitation referrals involving an identified possible perpetrator should be discussed with a Probation & Community Rehabilitation Centre Child Exploitation SPoCs, to ascertain if there is any current involvement / intelligence with the individual.

    Practitioners can also make Child Exploitation referrals on addresses / venues that they believe are being used for the purpose of Child Sexual Exploitation e.g. park, hotel, take away restaurant. Referral can be made directly to Sefton MASH. If intelligence is not attributed to an individual child this can be communicated to the Police (Tel. 0151 777 8100) via the Partnership Automated Intelligence Reporting (PAIR) System.  If a child is considered to be at risk of harm this method of referring intelligence should not be used and a referral should be made to the MASH.  A Child Exploitation Case Discussion / Child Exploitation Strategy Meeting should be held regarding the address / venue referred, so as to be able to identify children or young people who attend this address, so that safeguarding measures can be implemented in order to protect them from being sexually exploited.

    CSE Strategy Meetings / CSE Case Discussions

    Child Exploitation Case Discussions / Strategy Meetings are held to facilitate agencies discussing the presenting indicators of abuse in order to determine if the child or young person is being or is at risk of being sexually exploited, is a victim of sexual exploitation and whether the child should be referred to the Sefton Multi-Agency Child Exploitation Panel (MACE).

    During Child Exploitation Case Discussions / Strategy Meetings the Signs of Safety Model is used. This model is a strengths-based, safety-organised approach to child protection casework. The outcome of the Child Exploitation Case Discussion / Strategy Meeting will decide any further actions accordingly, including whether the case should be referred to:

    • Early Intervention Prevention Services
    • Children’s Social Care for a Child and Families Assessment.

    The criteria for initiating a Section 47 Enquiry is also consulted and, if necessary, initiated. A Section 47 Enquiry must be undertaken if at any stage:

    • There is reasonable evidence that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm; or
    • Police powers of protection have been used.

    The Child Exploitation Case Discussion / Strategy Meeting must consider making a referral to professionals/services, including those with specialist experience in sexual exploitation, who will be able to undertake appropriate work with the child or young person.

    During the Child Exploitation Case Discussion / Strategy Meeting the CE 2 Risk Assessment should be undertaken, to identify if the level of child’s vulnerability and level of risk.

    The focus of the Child Exploitation Case Discussion / Strategy Meeting is to ensure that an immediate Safeguarding Action Plan is put in place and to commence perpetrator disrupt activities / Police Investigation. This ensures that children are effectively safeguarded from the point of referral and do not wait for a monthly Child Exploitation Panel to take place.

    If a Licenced Premises or a licenced taxi driver are considered to be involved in the exploitation of the child(ren) the Child Exploitation Business Information Analyst escalates this information to the Service Manager Sefton Safeguarding Children Unit immediately subsequent to the multi-agency discussion.  A discussion then takes place between the Service Manager Sefton Safeguarding Children Unit, Detective Inspector of Sefton’s Vulnerable Person’s Unit in Merseyside Police and a Child Exploitation Single Point of Contact responsible for the Council Licencing Service and Police Licencing to agree appropriate disrupt actions being undertaken.

    Immediate Protection

    Where immediate action to safeguard a child is required, it may involve removing the child from the home of a person who is exploiting them to a safe place. However, those working with children in these circumstances must never underestimate the power of perpetrators to find where the child is.

    Such children will need placements with carers who have experience of building trusting relationships and skills at containing young people. All ‘looked after’ children’s care plans and placement plan should identify how any CSE risks are to be effectively managed within their placement.

    In order to break the cycle of a child or young person being a victim of sexual exploitation professionals should also consider the possibility of a respite provision or short-break away from the area in which the child/ young person and/or, if known, where the potential perpetrator resides.

    The Police have powers under Section 46 of the Children Act 1989 to protect children and are able to issue a Police Protection Orders in exceptional circumstance if they believe that a child is at risk of suffering significant harm. Under a Police Protection Order the child is moved to suitable accommodation or if the child is in hospital or in a place of safety. A child cannot be kept in police protection for more than 72 hours.

    A decision to place a child or young person in Secure Accommodation should only be considered in extreme circumstances, when they are at grave risk of Significant Harm. In cases where the child is under the age of 13, the approval of the Secretary of State must be sought.

    Sefton Multi-Agency Child Sexual Exploitation Panel (MACSE)

    Sefton’s Multi-Agency Child Exploitation Panel (MACE) is a monthly partnership meeting co-chaired by the Detective Chief Inspector Sefton Police Basic Command Unit and Service Manager responsible for Sefton’s Independent Children’s Safeguarding & Review Service. The MACE provides a framework which enables regular sharing of information between agencies and facilitates multi agency action planning to protect children and disrupt, investigate and prosecute perpetrators of child sexual exploitation. MACE receives referrals of concerns relating to children that have been discussed at a CE case discussion / Strategy Meeting and the Pre-MACE meeting.

    A monthly Pre-MACE meeting is convened to discuss Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation referrals and share intelligence between at least the Police and the Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation CE Strategic Leads,. During the Pre-MACE meeting decisions made in CE Case Discussions / Strategy Meetings are quality assured, patterns and trends between individual children referred and identified perpetrators are identified and the agenda for the next monthly MACE Meeting is planned.

    In accordance with the PAN Merseyside CSE Information Sharing Agreement professionals are requested to share intelligence/ information prior to Pre-MACE following the CE Case Discussion / Strategy Meeting with the CE Business Information Analyst to further inform the Pre-MACE discussions.

    Each child that is due to be discussed at Sefton MACE is allocated a specific timeslot. In addition to the standing MACE panel membership relevant agencies involved with the child and their family, and any named alleged perpetrators, are invited to attend e.g. school, placement, out of borough placed children’s allocated social worker, team manager and Independent Reviewing Officer or offender manager. This ensures that the MACE Plan is developed by the professionals/ services who have direct knowledge of the child and their family, or the alleged perpetrator, together with the insight and offer of services provided by the standing MACE panel members. This also ensures that the MACE Plan compliments any other plans that are already in place for the child e.g. Child In Need Plan, Child Protection Plan, Looked After Child’s Care Plan etc. This is particularly important for children placed in Sefton by other local authorities who Sefton agencies have previously had no knowledge of.

    Sefton MACE is co-chaired by a Police, Detective Chief Inspector, the Child Sexual Exploitation Strategic Lead and Child Criminal Exploitation Strategic Lead . This ensures a balanced approach to discussions and plans formulated regarding Protect and Prosecute actions. The monthly Panel is organised and administered by the CE Business Information Analyst.

    Sefton MACE membership consists of the following CE SPoC agency representatives:

    • Sefton Vulnerable Person’s CE Team, Merseyside Police (Detective Inspector, Detective Sergeant and CSE & Missing Person Co-ordinators)
    • North West Borough Health Safeguarding Children Named Nurse
    • Southport and Ormskirk Sexual Health Service & Safeguarding Leads
    • Sefton Council Children Missing Education Co-ordinator
    • Catch 22
    • Rape and Sexual Assault Service
    • Probation Services (National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Centre)
    • Early Help Locality Service
    • MASH Manager

    During the meeting a MASE Action Plan is created under the 4 P’s of the Sefton LSCB CE Strategy; Profile, Prevent, Protect and Prosecute. It is for each representative at the meeting to remain responsible for the actions that can be offered by their agency. However, an ethos of accountability and responsibility to partner agencies must be encouraged and developed.

    Everyone who attends the child’s individual MACE discussion is provided with a copy of the child’s MACS action plan via a secure email address. Only the Police and Safeguarding Co-Chair are provided with the Prosecute detail of the MACE Plan, to ensure that any police investigations/ prosecutions are not jeopardised.

    The intelligence and information will be shared at the meeting will be recorded on systems in order to allow the analysts to identify themes, patterns and trends emerging from MACE meetings held around Merseyside. This may include the identification of serial perpetrators, and the involvement of organised crime groups (OCGs) or premises linked to child sexual exploitation. Effective analysis depends upon the detail included upon MACE referrals and intelligence submissions. It is important that gaps in this information e.g. care home addresses, schools attended, known associates etc. are addressed at the meeting and the minutes must be updated. Patterns and trends are reported to the LSCB CE Sub Group, and in turn the LSCB, via the Quarterly CE Data Analysis Report.

    The MACE meeting does not replace, supersede or singularly address exploitation of children and should be followed in conjunction with current safeguarding procedures.

    At each Initial MACE Meeting regarding a child, a date is agreed to review the MACE Plan.

    Intervention and Support

    Agencies should recognise that there may be a strong relationship between the child and the coercer/abuser and it may be difficult for the child to break this relationship.

    A strategy should therefore be developed, with the child and family wherever at all possible, to address the child's needs and help him or her to move on from the exploitative situation. It’s is fundamental that the child’s voice is heard. In cases of a child who has been reported as missing, their voice is captured through an Independent Return Interview. The MACE Plan should include specialist therapeutic support, mentoring to assist a return to education or employment, outreach work, help to secure appropriate health and sexual health services, and assistance to develop a positive network of friends and relatives.

    The particular circumstances of the child should of course be taken into account in developing the multi-agency response and the plan for services should be tailored to meet their specific needs, e.g. whether they are ‘looked after’ and/or preparing to leaving care, not receiving a suitable education, often missing from home or care, may have been trafficked and/or may be affected by gang activity.

    Parents should always be engaged in this process, unless they are implicated in the sexual exploitation.  Parents should be offered specific support to understand the sexual exploitation and how they can be a protective factor.  Parents should be advised of the support they can access via PACE

    The local Sexual Assault Service assists with the holistic approach to reproductive and sexual health screening and treatment, as well as assessment for physical and mental health services, safeguarding services and police protection and investigation. Therapeutic interventions are also offered from the Rape and Sexual Assault service (RASA) and Police Crime Commissioner funded Catch 22 Service and CAMHS.