Mark Douglas, Director of Children's Services, Bradford Council
Bradford authorities have apologised for 'failing to protect ' victims of child sexual exploitation after a damning 60 page report was published today.
The report, written by Clare Hyde of foundation for families, said the stories from the children were 'difficult to hear' and had shone a light on the responses to CSE in Bradford over a 17 year period.
She said: "It is also clear that while there has been considerable work in the district in relation to CSE there are still lessons that need to be learned and the responses to victims of this complex crime is not yet good enough in all cases."
The independent review was commissioned following the sentencing of nine men in 2019 to a total of 132 years' and 8 months' imprisonment following the abuse of a child who had been in the care of Bradford Council. Its publication was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study examined the cases of five children.
‘Anna’ was abused as a child and her mother raised concerns about CSE when she was 14.Services were out in place including social care and a specialist voluntary sector provider.
The report stated: ‘These services did not keep Anna safe. Anna had two children whilst she was still a looked after child and the services supposed to protect her colluded with an older abusive boyfriend and she was fostered with his family.'
The fifth child whose life formed part of this report is a disabled boy called ’Ben’.His disability affected his communication and there were concerns in his childhood about domestic, physical and sexual abuse.
He was a victim of CSE from men and women. He and his female sibling were on a child protection plan but there was a difference in the response to Ben and to the girls in respect of CSE.
The report's author said: "The abuse does not occur because of a child’s vulnerability. It occurs because there is someone who is willing to take advantage of this vulnerability and because there are inadequate positive structures in place to prevent this."
The report acknowledged that 'change and improvements' had been made but identified how far there is to go.
The review concluded that agencies in Bradford 'did not always get it right' and some children 'remain unprotected while some perpetrators remain unknown and unchallenged.' This comes despite improvements in 'understanding' and 'responses' to child sexual exploitation between historic and current cases.
Authorities in Bradford have issued an 'apology' saying they had 'failed' to protect them.
A Statement from the Bradford Partnership - Working Together to Safeguard Children said:"We want to apologise to the young people identified in this report and any others where the actions of agencies in Bradford has failed to protect them from child sexual exploitation (CSE).
CSE is a horrendous crime that blights the lives of those who have suffered this form of abuse. It is a national issue and, like many places up and down the country, Bradford District has seen a series of cases that have gone back over the last two decades. This crime must not be tolerated. All the partners in our district are committed to protecting our children and to working with the police to bring perpetrators of this crime to justice.
The Bradford Partnership have made significant changes to their response and handling of CSE over the past decade putting in place specialist teams and additional resource to this area. As a result of the work in this area there have been a number of successful outcomes at court where a large number of defendants were found guilty and sentenced to substantial prison sentences. This work will continue for as long as it is necessary and we will support anyone who comes forward with information or who has been the victim of abuse."
Jane Booth, who is the chair of Bradford Partnership and who commissioned the report, said that new systems were now in place.
If you suspect a child is being abused, call Bradford Council's Contact Point on 01274 435600 in confidence and speak to a trained advisor or email email@example.com
If you are worried about a child's immediate safety, contact the police by calling 999.
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by issues raised in this report, help and support is available by contacting the services below:
Bradford Thrive & Survive - 0808 2800 999 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am - 4:30pm; closed for half an hour lunch at 1pm)
The One Front Door helpline is completely free and confidential, and the call will not show up on itemised bills.
Anah Project - 0845 960 6011 - An experienced and support service for women fleeing any form of abuse, based in West Yorkshire
Bradford Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Survivors Service - 0800 448 0710 - Supporting women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at any time in their lives
Survivors UK - 0203 598 3898 (Monday to Sunday 12pm to 8pm) - Information, support and counselling for men who have been raped or sexually abused as adults or children
NAPAC (National Association for People Abused as Children) - 0808 801 0331 (10am to 9pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 6pm on Fridays). Registered charity, based in the UK, providing support and information for people abused in childhood