97 children in Glasgow at risk of sex exploitation

Picture: Robert Perry
Picture: Robert Perry
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A total of 97 children in Glasgow have been identified as being victims of sexual exploitation or are at risk according to a council report.

The number was highlighted in a new report which examined Glasgow social work’s current practices in the wake of the child sex abuse scandal in Rotherham.

While Rotherham child services wilfully ignored evidence of sexual abuse, with the public inquiry estimating that 1,400 children were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013, Glasgow social work reported close involvement with police-led operations in recent years. A number of prosecution cases remain live with a number of individuals currently facing charges.

• ‘Rotherham-style’ child abuse in Scotland probed

The report stated: “It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of young people subject to child sexual exploitation in Glasgow although the current operation with the police identified 97 children and young people who potentially were victims of/or at risk of child sexual exploitation.

“Of this group, the current police operation focused on 39, with a number of those screened out, already known to services and supported. The screening was for the purpose of the investigation, and all of the young people’s circumstances explored on a multi-agency basis.”

The development of an action plan to address the issue of child sexual exploitation in Glasgow has now been agreed and it will focus on four key areas which are; awareness-raising; investigation; interventions; and process and procedures.

Relationships

The social work department reported that many young people can view exploitation as “relationships”. The report went on to state that secure care had been used to protect some young people from “significant harm” but recognised that this was a “holding situation” rather than a permanent solution and that “once the young person returns to the community risk is once again identified.” There is currently an estimated 130 children in children’s homes in the Glasgow area.

The report’s recommendations also examined the issue of race and stated: “there is learning to be taken from the current operation with regard to the management of legal process where race has been an issue. A number of male suspects have come from countries out with Scotland. There is further learned to be identified with regard to criminal investigation processes, legal interventions and co-ordination of large child protection investigations.”

The report will now go to the Children and Families Policy Development Committee on Thursday.

A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “As the committee report indicates, there have been a number of instances of child sexual exploitation in Glasgow. Our child protection staff are very aware of the issues surrounding child exploitation and have a strong understanding of the indicators that point towards a child being abused.

“The council’s child protection team works closely with the police and other partners through the child protection committee to respond to any allegations of young people being exploited for sexual purposes. The child protection team’s primary focus is to protect the child while police work to bring offenders to justice.

“Partners within the child protection committee structure do work closely together and information is regularly and routinely shared to ensure a robust response for those at risk of harm of sexual exploitation.”

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