Buckinghamshire County Council has this week agreed to a number of recommendations set out by the Council’s Children’s Social Care and Learning Select Committee.
The report details an inquiry conducted by the Committee into the prevention of child sexual exploitation in Buckinghamshire and contains ten recommendations, nine of which have been given full backing by the Cabinet .
The recommendations put forward by the Committee have the potential to be a real step forward in the prevention of this evil criminal activity. I welcome the commitment of the Council to these new measures and especially the overall prioritisation of child protection.
The recommendation for the development of a toolkit for use in schools to help schools foster resilience in their pupils is an excellent one. In terms of prevention, equipping children from an early age using age-appropriate means will have a strong long-term effect on their ability to recognise practices that may be of danger to them and to their peers.
Similarly, the introduction of Hotel Watch has the potential to increase prevention, detection and ultimately prosecution. Although early days for Bucks, the ‘say something if you see something’ training provided to hotels, guest houses and door staff, which has proved successful in Oxfordshire, could play a vital role locally.
It is important to note the challenges and limitations facing the authorities. Several recommendations, for instance, relate to the sharing of information between sexual health providers and other Bucks authorities involved with potential victims. Whilst in principle this is a useful practice that could make a real difference, victims must continue to have their right to privacy protected.
Whilst the report itself focuses on prevention, we must also consider the wider issues of detection and prosecution. I know local police will go where crimes lead them to make arrests without fear or favour.
These appalling crimes are often beyond the mental capacity of moral, decent individuals to understand. The announcement this week reaffirms the Council’s commitment to preventing children from being sexually exploited and I stand ready to assist the Council, the police and other institutions in the protection of children.