Child sexual exploitation unit ‘does not have enough resources’

James Joyce

James Joyce - Credit: Archant

A service set up to deal with concerns about children who may be suffering sexual exploitation does not have enough resources to manage the number of cases being referred to it, a report warns.

The Norfolk child sexual exploitation team is currently made up of two police officers, a police intelligence officer, a team manager from children's social care and a 'return home' visitor from The Magdalene Group, which supports women working in prostitution.

It is part of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (Mash), which received 31 referrals in the 12 months to March, where children and young people were deemed to be at high risk of sexual exploitation.

A report to Thursday's children's services overview panel also says police submit an average of 85-95pc of referrals, and finding out why other agencies were not highlighting cases needed to be addressed 'as a priority'.

James Joyce, cabinet member for safeguarding, said: 'Protecting Norfolk's children is our foremost priority and we must do more to ensure that social workers, teachers, health professionals and police officers know how to identify child sexual exploitation and that agencies are working together to tackle it and bring offenders to justice.'

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An updated strategy to tackle the issue was approved by the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board in March.

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