Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Rotherham child sexual exploitation team could be 'swamped'

A team tackling child sexual exploitation is in danger of becoming "swamped", a report has claimed.

A review has been carried out in Rotherham after MPs criticised authorities for "letting down" victims.

Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board said the progress made was "remarkable" and its findings were largely positive.

But it said the role and structure of the CSE team needed to be reviewed before it became "subsumed in a mountain of referrals and casework".

The CSE team was set up by Rotherham Council, South Yorkshire Police and other agencies in October 2012 after an investigation by The Times newspaper claimed authorities were aware of extensive and co-ordinated abuse of girls in Rotherham.

Last year MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee said the council's response to CSE had been "inexcusably slow" and that police had "let down" victims of grooming.

'Fragmented approach'

Stephen Ashley, chair of Rotherham's Safeguarding Children Board and author of the report, said the team was set up with "enthusiasm, speed and minimal bureaucratic barriers" and staff were "committed" and well-trained.

But he said: "There was no evidence of a structured tasking and coordinating process within the team and this may result in a fragmented approach to work, with the team accepting more and more referrals and responsibility until they become over capacity to response to the priorities."

A number of recommendations have been made including the appointment of a manager to oversee the team, "greater clarity" over its role, and a move away from its current base at Maltby Police Station.

Last year Rotherham Council announced a public inquiry would be held to examine its handling of CSE cases from 1997 to the present.

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