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'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.Article continues below...
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 2 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.'
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Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said:
'The protection of vulnerable children is a key priority for the police service, but it is something which is not only our responsibility, but that of partners in education, health, social services and children’s services departments as well as colleagues in third sector organisations.
I welcome any opportunity to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue and action with partner agencies and these regular meetings between myself, HMIC and Ofsted are a welcome addition to the fight against child abuse in all its forms.'
'I fully endorse Sir Michael’s comments. There is a growing body of evidence, including that from HMIC’s National Child Protection inspection programme, that highlights the particular vulnerabilities of children who go missing from care. Independent return interviews can provide a wealth of information about the reasons why they are running away, particularly where this is becoming more frequent and the child is reluctant to speak to police or other agencies. This is crucial if the right steps are to be taken to protect these vulnerable children.
Our inspections show that police forces are investing in improving responses to risk, especially for children who go missing from home and those at risk of child sexual exploitation. But there is more to do on a collaborative, multi-agency basis, both to understand the nature and scale of the problem and to address it effectively. HMIC is also is strengthening its focus on this important issue which is integral to the vulnerability strand of our PEEL all-force inspection programme. An inspection of forces’ preparedness to tackle child sexual exploitation and their management of missing children is currently underway in all police forces in England and Wales. We will report on our findings in the autumn.'