Sheffield’s children exploitation service running effectively

10 February 2022

Sheffield’s children exploitation service is running effectively according to the city council. 

It was announced at a council meeting yesterday through the Amber project, 45 children and young people have been safeguarded, and 29 referrals relating to Child Sexual Exploitation were made from 2020 – 2021.

Professionals in Sheffield receive thorough training on contextual safeguarding, exploitation and trauma-informed practice, leading to the successful identification, referral, and care for vulnerable young people who have been victims of exploitation or those identified as at risk.

Co-located Multi-Agency Sheffield Sexual Exploitation Service subordinated to the Amber project has been continuing to assist vulnerable young people at risk of CSE, aged under 18 or over 18 depending on needs, throughout the year despite lockdowns and general uncertainty. Teams of CSE specialists, nurses, the South Yorkshire Police officers, youth workers and professionals provided face to face bespoke support and guidance. 

Dan White, head of Health and Targeted Services, said that there had been extraordinary challenges to the service as new operational activities were needed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but support and treatments for traumatic experiences have been more effective.

Despite the number of referrals in relation to Criminal Exploitation increasing, there was a drop in referrals being made since the pandemic, due to lockdowns and school closures.

Workers have spent more time on each referral and undertaken training to make sure they are in a good position to respond to emerging needs from CSE victims, even when facing Covid-19 restrictions. 

Councillor Mick Rooney, Chair of the Children, Young People and Family Support Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee, said: “The Amber Service is actually involved in potentially salvaging people’s lives or preventing them from making a real mess with their lives.

“Perhaps we did not give enough credit to what the service does in terms of saving people from disasters, and we should recognise that.”

In the week of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2022, South Yorkshire Police has taken the opportunity to encourage those who have experienced sexual abuse or violence to report and reach out for help from agencies such as Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

Written by Yiying Fan

Journalism student at the University of Sheffield.

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