Agenda item

Contextual Safeguarding, Exploitation and Extra-Familial Harm


Councillor Laing (Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care, Culture, Events and Communications) introduced the report to the Committee and Martine Aquilina (Head of Service) presented the report to the Committee and highlighted the following key points:



Plymouth had taken a real focus on its child exploitation work and the workforce had increased. The Reducing Exploitation and Absence from Care and Home (REACH) team had increased from three full time equivalents up to seven full time equivalents and were now placed amongst the services adolescent support and youth justice teams which had equally grown in size to ensure a robust response team to child exploitation;



Usual child protection ways of working did not work for children/young people experiencing extra familial harm and the service needed to take a different response. Plymouth adopted the Adolescent Safety Framework (ASF) in January 2022 but there had been issues in embedding the framework across the city and the service was actively refreshing the training to support that;



It was difficult to obtain data from the Police in relation to County Lines as it was very fluid but it was known that there were two to three county lines coming into Plymouth and the service was actively working with Devon and Cornwall Police to disrupt that, but it was acknowledged county lines would never go and would be a constant piece of work for the service;



Sexual exploitation had increased significantly during the spring 2023 and the service had been training and retraining its workforce to be more curious around sexual exploitation;



Knife crime in the city had not been hugely prevalent and the service has seen two young people in the last 12 months relating to knife crime and a further six young people were stopped or arrested in the same period;



The ASF would be combined with Plymouth’s strategic base and its operational Missing and Child Exploitation Group to ensure Plymouth adopted the new approach;



Reviews were taking place with the Police to ensure data collection was appropriate as Plymouth had gaps;



Children going missing had been on the increase which had been due to the summer;



Increasing the workforce in this area would allow for greater chance of developing relationships with those that go missing and it was acknowledged that children in the care of the local authority were more likely to go missing than those not in care;



Daily intelligence briefings (DIB) were introduced due to an increase in some of the risk associated with some young people. Briefings would take place the Police Child Protection Team, Youth Justice Service, Edge of Care service, REACH service and Health. More partners from the city were attending the briefings;


In response to questions raised it was reported that:



Where a child/young person was arrested with drugs as part of County Lines activity, the Police would seek to treat them as victims and not as perpetrators in the first instances. The service would attempt to work with those young people through early intervention youth justice service and an prevention team;



In 2023, Plymouth did not have any missing unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). If there were any missing for more than 24 hours, Plymouth would immediately convene a strategy meeting with Police attendance with subsequent daily review meetings;



The service was working proactively and closely with education colleagues to get children/young people back into education as it was known they would be safer;



The service ran a ‘lets talk teenagers’ program which was free and helped professionals and families to understand the triggers, signs and symptoms of exploitation. A booklet was produced which all schools in Plymouth could have access to;



The Early Help service was seeing an increase in the workforce and capacity which would allow the service to have link workers within schools;



The service actively completed a lot of prevention work with young people and would be building a group work program to help young people think about how the dangers and risks of carrying knives;


The Committee agreed to note the report.









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