POLICE and councils in Cheshire have vowed to review child protection processes in the wake of the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.
The agencies have said they are committed to protecting youngsters, and stressed that “excellent work” had been carried out to safeguard children in recent years.
News of the review comes as police launch a new scheme to link officers to every child care home in the county to build relationships and identify abuse early.
A joint statement was released this week by Cheshire Constabulary, Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Probation Service and four councils.
It states: “In the light of the shocking findings from Rotherham, we have jointly undertaken to review our processes against the independent report so that we, and consequently the public, can have confidence that we are doing everything we can to keep children safe.”
A report revealed that at least 1,400 children in the South Yorkshire town were systematically abused over a period of 16 years.
Leaders of the Cheshire agencies have said they will hold regular meetings to ensure a similar scandal is not repeated in the county.
They said: “All of the agencies in Cheshire recognise that child sexual exploitation is a major issue across the UK.
“The crime is often hidden from view and goes unnoticed, vulnerable young girls and boys are groomed and then abused, leaving them traumatised and scarred for life. The recent report relating to Rotherham once again reminds us all and reinforces the scale and extent of this issue across the UK.
“We are all aware that in recent years some excellent work has been carried out locally in relation to child sexual exploitation and missing children, in particular children in care. This work has been driven by the Multi-Agency Strategic Group and delivered by the four local children’s safeguarding boards who carry the statutory responsibility for protecting children.
“Working together, all the agencies have worked hard through campaigns to provide a real focus on how to recognise the signs of CSE [child sexual exploitation]. This work will continue.”
They called on members of the community to support them in their work, and pass on any information that may help protect children.
Their statement added: “Those working in all agencies in our area are committed to safeguarding children. We have dedicated resources working in safeguarding, child sexual exploitation and investigating missing from home. We continue to work in partnership in each local authority area to safeguard children and do so proactively; seeking to prevent harm from occurring where we can. We would welcome contact from anyone who has information that helps up keep children safe.”