In Brief

Ofsted: council failings put children at risk of sex abuse

Some professionals have 'simply failed' to properly protect young people, says education watchdog

Failings by England's local authorities are putting vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation, Ofsted has warned.

A report commissioned by the watchdog's chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, comes amid a series of high-profile investigations into organised child abuse across the country.

Ofsted has accused councils of being "too slow" in fulfilling their duties to prevent child sexual exploitation, with half of local authorities in England failing to put an action plan into place.

The report – titled 'The sexual exploitation of children: it couldn't happen here, could it?' – said that there was poor information sharing between local authorities, police, health services and others.

Too few authorities are systematically making the connection between child sexual exploitation and children who are missing from school, it said.

Cases in Rotherham, Rochdale, Derby and Oxford have uncovered the previously hidden scale of the problem, as well as a "particular pattern of abuse involving predominantly white British girls as victims and gangs of predominantly Asian heritage men as perpetrators", found the report.

But it warned that child sexual exploitation is not confined to particular ethnic groups or parts of the country.

"It is inherently dangerous for any child protection agency to assume that they need not worry about this type of child abuse because the stereotypical offender or victim profile does not match their own local demographics," it said.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that "some professionals have simply failed to properly apply child protection processes to young people at risk of being sexually exploited", it added.

David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's children and young people board, said the report made for "uncomfortable reading" and conceded that some local authorities have been "too slow to step up to the plate".

He told the BBC that councils would reflect on its implications and ensure that they are doing "everything possible to protect each and every child".

A separate report published by MPs yesterday into the Rotherham cases concluded the local authority had "failed" the victims and questioned the performance of Ofsted itself.

The LGA has called for an independent review to discover "what has gone wrong" with the watchdog.

Recommended

How London became the city of choice for Russian ‘dirty money’
The City of London skyline
Why we’re talking about . . .

How London became the city of choice for Russian ‘dirty money’

What is a ‘trigger warning’ and why are they controversial?
J.K. Rowling reading from Harry Potter
Getting to grips with . . .

What is a ‘trigger warning’ and why are they controversial?

The possible outcomes of the Sue Gray report
Boris Johnson during a visit to a factory in Anglesey, North Wales
Behind the scenes

The possible outcomes of the Sue Gray report

What the National Insurance increase means
Boris Johnson with Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid
Fact file

What the National Insurance increase means

Popular articles

Are we heading for a snap general election?
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Today’s big question

Are we heading for a snap general election?

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik
In Depth

Is Bosnia on the brink of another civil war?

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adjusts her face mask following a press conference
In Depth

Why is New Zealand shutting its borders again?

The Week Footer Banner