We, Kirklees Council, have today pledged our support to the survivors of child sexual exploitation, and commissioned an independent review of its response at the time of the crimes.
In a joint statement for the council and for the Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board, Director of Children’s Services Steve Walker said:
“Firstly, I want to thank and pay tribute to the survivors in these cases. This has been a long and arduous process for them. Their courage in coming forward and giving evidence has brought these offenders to justice. I hope that the outcome today will give them some closure.
I would also like to acknowledge the professional work of West Yorkshire Police and staff within Kirklees Council Children’s Services who have worked together to achieve this outcome.
The sentences handed down to the perpetrators show that CSE will not be tolerated in Kirklees.
These are non-recent cases. It is important to reassure members of the public that these crimes took place a number of years ago at a time when – as we know from cases in other towns and cities – the issue of CSE was not well understood.
Since then, lessons have been learned. In Kirklees now, agencies, particularly Children’s Services and West Yorkshire Police, work closely together to ensure that victims and potential victims are protected and those who seek to exploit and abuse children and young people are brought to justice.
The robust arrangements that we have in place including sharing intelligence and information across all agencies, mean that there is no hiding place in Kirklees for perpetrators of abuse.
However, we would also like to reassure the public that we are in no way complacent on this issue. The safety of our children and young people is our highest priority and we are always seeking to improve our response to benefit them.
For that reason we have asked independent expert Dr Mark Peel – the former Professor of Social Work at Leicester University, to undertake a review of these non-recent cases to identify whether there are any lessons we can learn.
Through the Kirklees Safeguarding Children’s Partnership, we are also in the process of commissioning an independent review of our current policies and practices by external experts to review whether there are opportunities to improve these further.
Anybody who believes they may have witnessed or may know about CSE crime should report it to police immediately.”
How to report concerns
- If you’re worried that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused you can contact the children’s social care team at Kirklees Council. You can choose not to give your details.
- You can report it online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP).
- Or you can call the NSPCC 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 for expert advice and support.
- If a child is at immediate risk call 999, or call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.
- Children and young people can call Childline free on 0800 1111 where trained counsellors are available 24 hours a day.