Transforming child sexual exploitation services In Rotherham

Published Friday, 1st July 2016
EVOLVE team launch
Left to right: Lynn Mcintosh, Rotherham Council Strategic CSE Lead, Evolve; Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People's Services at Rotherham Council; Emma Jackson, CSE Survivor; Cllr Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council; John Fitzgibbons, South Yorkshire Police

Rotherham is transforming the way it deals with child sexual exploitation (CSE) and now it is delivering a ground-breaking service to tackle it.

Evolve – the multi-agency specialist team tackling child exploitation - has today moved into new premises in Rotherham.

The team one of the first of its kind in the country – consisting of social workers, Pace (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation), a child sexual exploitation specialist nurse, a Barnardo's project worker, a children's social care operational manager, business support staff and police officers – all working in one place together.

Operating out of the Eric Mann's building opposite Rotherham Town hall, it has come together in order to give the best response to and safeguard children who are or likely to suffer harm through child sexual exploitation.

The aim is to provide 'wrap around'support and protection to children and their family, with a team of people from a variety of support agencies.

Today CSE survivor Emma Jackson, who was abused by a sex ring in Rotherham in the early 2000s, led the celebrations to open the new premises with a ribbon cutting ceremony. She said: "This is such a great idea and how I wish it had existed for me when I was a teenager and a victim of CSE. I had to go from police station to social worker to health clinic, all in different places and it was a scary ordeal. I have no doubt that this new way of working and this one stop shop, if you like, can only be a good thing as it will help people to be able to relax as much as they can when having to give the evidence to the people who will aim to help to put their attackers behind bars."

The building includes a suite of police interview rooms, with comfortable sofas to help put victims at ease; police incident rooms where large scale operations will be led from and offices filled with project workers from both Rotherham Council and Barnardo's ReachOut service.

On top of this there is a medical room, where specialist CSE nurses will be able to help treat victims and survivors of CSE. There is also a kitchen and shower area, all designed to help reassure victims and survivors that all the team have their best interests at heart. It is hoped by having all the CSE specialists working hand in hand, day in day out together that no evidence gets missed and all avenues are explored.

Rotherham Council Leader Cllr Chris Read said: "Today marks another important step forward in the way we deal with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. New facilities that help our multi-agency staff give the best possible service to victims, survivors, those at risk and their families.

"We are now operating with a much deeper understanding of this form of abuse. We are working more closely across agencies to keep children and young people as safe as we can." Strategic Director of Children and Young People's Services at Rotherham Council, Ian Thomas, said: "It's so pleasing to see so many survivors of CSE at the launch of this key development in Rotherham – their support speaks louder than words."

Detective Superintendent Natalie Shaw from South Yorkshire Police added: "No single agency can tackle child sexual exploitation alone which is why we need to work across agencies, and with our communities. We are operating in new ways which put victims and survivors first, and ensure we listen and respond. We are clear there is much more to do, but we have made real change already."

Tracey McErlain Burns, Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust Chief Nurse said: "The victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation and their families require services to work in partnership, and health colleagues are key players in the Evolve partnership in Rotherham. We are very pleased to be an integral part of the team."