National developments on tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) are not reaching frontline social work staff the Office of the Children’s Commissioner has revealed in a new report: ‘If it’s not better, it’s not the end’.

The report, published on 17th February 2015, found the vast majority of frontline social workers are not consistently implementing child sexual exploitation training into their line of work. It also found that tough strategies implemented by Police forces, voluntary sector organisations and local safeguarding children boards, aimed at tackling CSE, “do not always lead to effective frontline practice”.

Whilst local children safeguarding boards (LSCBs) and police forces were praised for the progress they have made in the past 12 months in terms of tackling child sexual exploitation, the investigation raised concerns that the strategies in place were not filtering down to frontline practitioners via robust child sexual exploitation training.

Sue Berelowitz, the deputy children’s commissioner for England, stated; “It is clear that, at the frontline, much work is still needed. There is a gap between strategy and what happens on the ground. I am concerned that some areas continue to focus on one pattern of abuse overlooking child victims and perpetrators of some of the other types of sexual exploitation our work uncovered.”

The investigation found that only 48% of LSCBs reported that organisations in their area had managed to identify any victims at all. On top of this, 31% of LSCBs involved and sought the opinion of young people in the creation and implementation of their strategies.

The director of campaigns and policy at The Children’s Society, Peter Grigg, stated that the report should act as a wake-up call for social services. “The time has come to move from plans to real actions to protect children and young people,” he said. “We have to stop relying solely on children coming forward to report abuse and sexual exploitation. Professionals working with children – the police, teachers, social services and health staff – should pay careful attention to the signs of child sexual exploitation and communicate with each other about it.”

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