Child abuse victims not being counted in city’s official figures
CHILDREN from across the UK falling victim to abuse after being placed in Birmingham care homes are NOT being counted in the city’s official CSE figures.
The youngsters are classed as ‘out of borough kids’ and their ordeals are only officially recorded on a Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) register by their home authority.
Critics claim the system means the full picture of CSE in the city is being skewed, with social workers and police often unaware of the presence of victims in Birmingham.
One source said: “Birmingham statutory agencies are not told out of borough kids are here at times. They don’t know until they go missing.
“Police manage investigations happening in Birmingham if involving out of borough victims, but the council don’t have any duty at all. It’s a joke.
“The Telford authorities have mentioned Birmingham a lot, with kids being trafficked in Birmingham through New Street, one of the biggest train stations in the UK.”
Birmingham City Council confirmed that there are currently 984 out of borough kids in Birmingham.
Earlier this month, official statistics revealed nearly 500 city youngsters were identified as being at risk of child sexual exploitation in the last year.
Those are broken down into three categories, starting from ‘at risk’ and then ‘significant risk’ and finally the highest level: at ‘serious risk’.
The number of children in the ‘significant’ and ‘serious risk’ categories in Birmingham is said to fluctuate at around 100 – but out-of-borough kids are not included in that figure.
“Police manage crimes in Birmingham, but not the child’s risk profile in terms of CSE,” the Post source explained.
“Other areas do because they are smaller. But, simply put, there are hundreds of out of borough children placed in Birmingham that the police and the city council don’t know of. That’s scary.
“It’s down to the child’s local area to tell police and council about them moving into the area.”
Iryna Pona, Policy and Research Manager with The Children’s Society, said: “Being a distance away from your support networks of family and friends makes children in out-of-area placements vulnerable to being groomed for sexual and criminal exploitation.
“We know that many of them are going missing and often not being interviewed once they’ve returned to find out why they went, and what happened to them while they were missing.
“It is important that councils placing a looked-after child away from their home area make sure they inform that area of the needs of the child and any risks they may be experiencing, including the risk of them going missing or being exploited.
“It is also important that councils where children are placed are making sure that they safeguard all children living in their area, including those looked after by other local authorities.”
Meanwhile, police and councils have been accused of failing CSE victims by not publishing quarterly offender profiles for more than a YEAR.
The crucial West Midlands reports, which include intelligence on suspected perpetrators and locations of alleged abuse, should be made public once every three months.
But the Post discovered that neither police nor the seven West Midlands councils have published the quarterly reports since July 2017.
After going to the authorities individually, we received some CSE information, including the fact that an eight-year-old girl was among the 140 youngsters classed as ‘at risk’ in Wolver- hampton. Yet the lack of published and co-ordinated reports means that crucial information about total numbers of children at risk, details of suspected offenders and places of abuse are not being made public – keeping victims and their families in the dark.
Sources claim the lack of regular published reports means intelligence that might be relevant today could be lost.
It is understood a number of hotels and B&Bs in the city have been identified as having seen CSE incidents, including one where ‘parties’ with young girls were staged.
Other suspected businesses include some shisha bars and dessert shops.
The office of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson says each of the seven councils is responsible for its own CSE report. They should be collated by Solihull Council every three months and passed on to West Midlands Police to publish on its website.
Birmingham City Council rejected an FOI seeking the latest information on CSE, but stated that between 2016 and 2018 there were ‘in excess of 1,200 referrals where both or either trafficking and CSE were initially recorded for the financial years 2016 to 2018’.