Council part of Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Conference

Published Wednesday, 15th June 2016
Ian Thomas
Ian Thomas, Strategic Director for CYPS

A survivor of child sexual exploitation is to tell her story on a national platform later this month to help agencies work together to tackle the crime.

Emma Jackson, who was abused by a sex ring in Rotherham in the early 2000s, will share the stage on Thursday 30 June with four local councils – Rotherham, Oxfordshire, Rochdale and Bristol - all of whom have had high profile scandals to deal with in recent years.

The Tackling CSE Conference aims to share experiences from the four local authority and partnership areas to demonstrate learnings and positive changes that have since emerged, offering the audience critical learning opportunities.

The event, being held in Birmingham, will also provide the outcomes of contemporary research in this area and how, when used effectively in service development, this can lead to better outcomes, as well as exploring the impact on victims from a survivor perspective.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Ms Jackson said prevention and early intervention was the key to stopping such horrific cases happening again. She said: “No one questioned what was happening to me. I came from a good home and a normal background, yet still I became a victim of CSE.

“My happy childhood came crashing down when I was just 13 years old.

“I had no idea that the young lads I met every Saturday in Rotherham town centre were part of an organised child sexual exploitation gang targeting young girls. I was drawn into a trap of degradation and violence fuelled by drink and drugs. I want people to realise if it could happen to me it could happen to anyone, or anyone’s child. People need to hear my story to help them learn to spot the signs of grooming and CSE, as well as help explore ways to improve prevention. Local authorities play such an enormous part in this.”

The conference will also discuss ways each of the four local authorities now supports children, young people and their families affected by sexual exploitation and how they have started to make improvements to their services, working with partner agencies including police and the voluntary and community sectors.

Ian Thomas, Director of Children’s Services at Rotherham Council, said: “This conference is about what really works based on our own experiences within our organisations and the strengths that come from working in partnerships.”

Mr Thomas, who has organised the event with his peers in Rochdale, Oxfordshire and Bristol, added: “CSE sadly is something which plagues all our communities and no area is free from it. We've all had high profile dealings in this area so it is really important to share the learning with our fellow counterparts.

“It is about recognising and valuing what works and what will go on to help prevent this appalling crime so other children and young people can be best protected from becoming victims in the future. This can only be done by prevention, protection and pursuing the perpetrators.”

He will be speaking alongside Rotherham’s strategic leads for multi-agency Operations and Complex Investigations and the statutory multi-agency team EVOLVE, which supports victims and survivors of CSE. This consists of front line dedicated CSE social workers and South Yorkshire police officers, health specialists, PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) and the voluntary sector.

The conference is open to any professionals working in areas which deal with CSE. This includes middle and senior managers in children’s services from across local authorities, NHS organisations, police, voluntary sector, schools and colleges, probation, youth offending services, elected members, chairs and members of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards.

All proceeds from the tickets will be going to support CSE victims’ and survivors’ charities.

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