‘Ineffective’ information-sharing holds back action on child sexual exploitation


“Ineffective processes” for sharing information is hampering action on child sexual exploitation (CSE), the chief inspector of Ofsted has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has raised concerns about the lack of clarity on the scale and extent of CSE across the country in a meeting with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

Particularly, Sir Michael raised the issue of the “continued lack of meaningful data and poor information-sharing on children missing from care” – children who are considered to be at greater risk of becoming victims of CSE.

It was the first of a series of regular meetings that Sir Michael will be having with the NPCC and HMIC and the discussions included chief constable Simon Bailey and the inspector of constabulary Wendy Williams.

Evidence from recent Ofsted inspection reports tabled at the meeting warned that many local authorities and children’s homes are still not getting their approach to missing children right meaning we do not fully understand the reasons why children can go missing.

Sir Michael said: “More must be done to identify and protect vulnerable children who are at risk of being sexually exploited. This duty is incumbent on all parties, including Ofsted and the police service. 

“Police leaders share my concern and frustration that a lack of understanding of the scale and extent of child sexual exploitation – in all its forms – is hindering efforts to prevent and tackle this issue. I remain concerned, a full two years after Ofsted published a detailed report into missing children – among some of the most vulnerable to exploitation – that this issue has not been given the priority it deserves by some local authorities and partners. 

“It is particularly worrying that many local authorities are unable to provide Ofsted with data about missing children in their area. Ofsted has strengthened its own focus on children who go missing in all single inspections. Where local authorities and partners are not serving these vulnerable children well, we will state this clearly and unequivocally.”

Ofsted has been working with fellow inspectorates for the police, health and probation services to develop a “programme of targeted, responsive, joint inspections” that will address issues including CSE in a bid to “provide a shared narrative about what is happening locally”. The model will roll-out from this autumn after consultation in July.



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