Child abuse vic­tims not be­ing counted in city’s of­fi­cial fig­ures

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jeanette Old­ham Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions

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’.

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