To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 15 July 2019 to Question 273801 on Child Exploitation, what plans his Department has to ensure that local authorities monitor the risk of criminal exploitation to children within their area.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 15 July 2019 to Question 273801 on Child Exploitation, if his Department will take steps to ensure that (a) local authorities and (b) police forces collect data on children at risk of criminal exploitation within their areas.
Further to the answer provided by the former Home Secretary (Sajid Javid), my right hon. Friend, the Member for Bromsgrove, on 15 July, the statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children (2018)’ sets out how the 3 safeguarding partners – the police, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the local authority - should have a clear understanding of the collective needs of children locally when commissioning effective services. These collective needs include the risks of criminal exploitation that are faced by children. In addition, the local authority is under a duty to monitor and report on serious child safeguarding incidents to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.
The safeguarding partners must publish an annual report setting out what they have done as a result of the arrangements, including how effective these arrangements have been in practice. They must also include how they will use data and intelligence to assess the effectiveness of the help being provided to children and families as well as the procedures and processes for cases relating to the abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, including in relation to child criminal exploitation.
As part of the department’s annual ‘Children in Need’ census, local authorities are also required to report to the department on the factors identified at the end of the assessment of children, including trafficking, missing children, gangs and child sexual exploitation, all of which may be related to the risk of child criminal exploitation.
The Home Office have provided £3.6 million for the establishment of the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre (NCLCC) to enhance the intelligence picture and support cross-border efforts to tackle county lines. The NCLCC supports operational policing as well as providing a central point at which intelligence and information is shared and the links with criminal exploitation and illegal drugs markets are identified.
In November 2018, the Director General of the National Crime Agency formally tasked all Chief Constables to direct all forces to implement a more consistent and prioritised intelligence and operational response, in respect of county lines drugs supply, to include the submission of intelligence to the NCLCC and a prioritised response to high-risk lines and gangs.