‘Vulnerable kids are protected by county’

Oxfordshire County Council logo NNL-160225-131148001
Oxfordshire County Council logo NNL-160225-131148001

Oxfordshire is working hard to combat child sexual exploitation according to a report by several government bodies.

A joint inspection, by Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and the Care Quality Commission was carried out in March and looked at the multi-agency response to abuse and neglect in Oxfordshire.

The report highlighted strengths in relation to tackling child sexual exploitation (CSE) and ensuring the county’s most vulnerable children are protected.

It said: “Following the challenges presented by a high profile investigation, local partners have responded robustly to CSE. Oxfordshire now has a highly developed and well-functioning approach to tackling exploitation.”

It also identified areas for improvement, including the performance of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) – which receives initial enquiries relating to vulnerable children and is where decisions are made about what action to take.

Schools described inconsistent responses to their referrals to the MASH. It also said social work caseloads at the ‘front door’ were variable and some high caseloads had been reported.

Oxfordshire County Council said these issues were well understood and the council was already working with its partners to remodel ‘front door’ arrangements for children’s social care.

OCC deputy director for safeguarding, Hannah Farncombe said: “We have always said our focus is on protecting our most vulnerable children and importantly, the inspection found that we are doing this successfully and that no children were identified at risk of harm.

“Significantly, we have also received confirmation the ongoing work of all partner agencies to protect children from child sexual exploitation is of a high standard, and children in Oxfordshire are safer as a result of this.”

She added: “We’re determined to build on these identified strengths and are working with our partners to ensure that the necessary improvements are also made so that we are providing the best possible service to all children and families in Oxfordshire.”