Over 100 professionals from across Somerset came together this week with the aim of working together to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Representatives from the police, health organisations, schools and local authorities attended the “practical conference” on Wednesday (30 November), which was organised by Somerset Safeguarding Children Board.
Speakers included the Chair of the Board, Sally Halls and representatives from children’s social care, the police, education and Somerset Partnership NHS Trust.
The delegates also took part in practical workshops which included discussing CSE cases and highlighting services in place in that area to support the young people and their families.
A “pocket practitioner guide” was also given to everyone who attended. Developed by the NHS, this will be adopted by all partners to ensure everyone working with children and young people are aware of the signs of CSE and what tools are available to support vulnerable children.
Sally Halls, Chair of Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, said: Sally Halls, Chair of Somerset Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Safeguarding is everyone’s business and it is only by working together that we can tackle child sexual exploitation and prevent it from happening.
“This event was a great success and brought a large number of school staff together with other agencies. This was important because our children and young people spend the majority of their time in school and with their teachers – so they are key in spotting a problem early.”
Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “It’s tempting to think child sexual exploitation doesn’t happen in a rural county like Somerset, but sadly it does and can affect any child regardless of background.
“We have been working with partners to raise public awareness of the issue. Only by working together can we tackle CSE and support our vulnerable children.”