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Children: Exploitation

Question for Department for Education

UIN 281116, tabled on 23 July 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 15 July 2019 to Question 273801 on Child Exploitation, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of implementing a contextual safeguarding framework to be used alongside other safeguarding models within the child protection system in order to better identify and support children being exploited.

This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.

Answered on

2 August 2019

Further to the answer provided by my hon. Friend, the Member for Louth and Horncastle on 15 July 2019, the statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, titled ‘Working together to safeguard children 2018’, is very clear that anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to local authority children’s social care. This should be done immediately, if there is a concern that the child is suffering significant harm, or is likely to do so. This guidance can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2.

That same guidance also sets out that assessments, including early help assessments, should look at the nature and level of risk faced by a child, and whether the risk is from within or external to the family. In response, local areas should have a comprehensive range of effective, evidence-based services in place to address assessed needs early.

A number of our best performing local authorities, known as Partners in Practice, are testing different approaches to how best to assess and support children who are at risk of abuse from extra familial threats. This includes funding up to £2 million for the London Borough of Hackney to test a contextual safeguarding approach through the Innovation Programme. The project is being externally evaluated and we expect the final report in September 2020.

The department is also funding the ‘Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme’ to provide evidence-based expertise, advice and practical support to safeguarding partners in local areas to develop an effective multi agency response to extra-familial harms, such as child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation, and gang and drug involvement that exploit vulnerable children.