29 Sep 2016

Responding to the publication by Ofsted of Time to Listen − a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

“Overall, as Ofsted acknowledges, improvements are being made and strategies drawn up to tackle the sexual exploitation of children. But we know from our work with vulnerable young people across the country that many are still being let down.

“Children who go missing are still experiencing poor or patchy responses from police and other professionals. Too many services are failing to properly assess the risks that young people face, or to share important local knowledge about places and people who pose risks to vulnerable children.

“When a child goes missing it’s vital that authorities take action without delay to make sure they are safe and work out what needs to be done to stop them running away again. Instead too many children are lumped into a low risk category that dismisses their experience as a temporary absence and makes it harder to protect them from harm. It’s time this misleading category was scrapped to make sure all vulnerable children who face serious risks of abuse, including child sexual exploitation, are given the help and support they need when they return home.

“The report also recognises the importance of making sure health professionals, among others, are equipped to identify child victims of sexual exploitation. Our Seen and Heard online training, produced with the Department of Health, is aimed at closing the knowledge gap. We urge all health services across the country to work with us to make sure that healthcare staff can confidently spot and help a child at risk of exploitation or abuse.”

Media enquiries

For more information, please call The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to Editors

• More information about Ofsted’s report is available at www.gov.uk/government/news/take-the-time-to-listen-to-vulnerable-children-say-inspectorates
• More information about Seen and Heard, the online training campaign produced by The Children’s Society and the Department of Health, is available at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/commission-us/seen-and-heard
• The Children’s Society is a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn. We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future. Our supporters around the country fund our services and join our campaigns to show children and young people they are on their side.