Councils ‘failing’ children exploited by gangs, report reveals

By William Eichler | 28 February 2019

The same mistakes that led to child sexual exploitation failings are being repeated with gangs, the children’s commissioner has warned.

A new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, warned that less than half of child offenders involved in gangs are being supported by children’s services.

Ms Longfield said: 'Thousands of children in towns and cities across England are at risk, and the same attention must be paid to protecting them as to other major threats to children.

‘However, I am worried that all the mistakes that led to serious safeguarding failings in relation to child sexual exploitation in towns and cities up and down the country are now being repeated.'

Chair of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, Cllr Simon Blackburn, said: ‘Councils are working hard to identify and protect children and young people at risk of abuse through County Lines activity, but this is increasingly difficult in a climate of ongoing funding cuts and soaring demand for urgent child protection work.'

A Home Office spokesperson said the Government was aware of the Children’s Commissioner’s report and is considering its findings.

He added: 'We are committed to protecting vulnerable children by cracking down on the ruthless gangs that seek to exploit them and by offering them the support and skills they need to lead lives free of violence.  That is why we launched the Serious Violence Strategy, which puts a greater focus on early intervention alongside a tough law enforcement response.

'We have proposed a new statutory duty on partners across education, social services and health to work together to tackle violence as part of a public health approach, and are providing £220m to support children and young people at risk of becoming involved in violence and gangs.'

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