COUNCIL leaders are confident Worcestershire will not become ‘a Rotherham’ after backing a plan to tackle child sexual exploitation.
Members of Worcestershire County Council’s cabinet gave their support to the Preventing Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Strategy at a meeting.
The action plan aims to ‘detect, prevent and disrupt’ abuse at the earliest stages as well as prosecute paedophiles.
The move comes after a string of CSE cases in places across the country, including in Rotherham where a report found that 1,400 children had been sexually abused in the town between 1997 and 2013.
The independent inquiry also condemned authorities in Rotherham’s failure to act quickly and Coun John Campion, the county council’s cabinet member for children and families, said he believed this would help to stamp it out in Worcestershire.
“We are not Rotherham and we will not turn into a Rotherham-esque situation and it is this type of commitment which will stop that happening,” he said.
“We have a good understanding of our situation in Worcestershire and this approach is absolutely the right method to make sure that we continue to keep our young people safe.”
Coun Marcus Hart, cabinet member for health, added: “I think perhaps one of the biggest mistakes for us here in leafy Worcestershire would be to say that this isn’t our problem and this only happens in large urban metropolitan areas.
“But it is absolutely vital we never become a Rotherham or a Rochdale or whatever, so I fully support this.”
The four-point plan has been set out by the Worcestershire Safeguarding Children’s Board and also pledges to create an awareness campaign in schools and to provide training to taxi drivers to help identify any signs.
Diana Fulbrook, independent chair of the WSCB, added: “The concerns have been around public awareness, the importance of educational involvement and the training of taxi drivers.
“But they are all included in the plan.
“We are certainly not complacent, but the direction has now been clearly set out in the strategy and the action plan.”