The Scrutiny Support Officer outlined the purpose of the meeting which was to consider a draft report on the enquiries, conclusion and proposals from the Panels scrutiny into the Exploitation of Children.
The aim of the scrutiny investigation was to assess the extent of exploitation of children in Middlesbrough, what services were in place to tackle the problem and if appropriate, what additional measures should be taken to combat the issue.
The Panel determined that it would obtain some foundation information before establishing its Terms of Reference for the scrutiny. Over the course of two meetings, information was obtained from the following organisations: Barnardos (SECOS project), Middlesbrough Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB), the Councils Children Families and Learning service area, the Chair of the Councils Licensing Committee, Principal Licensing Officer and the Integrated Youth Support Service (IYSS).
A statement report identifying the information received and the Panels findings to date was tabled at the meeting for Members consideration. The Scrutiny Support Officer presented the report which summarised the background to the scrutiny, the evidence received to date, findings and conclusions and recommendations.
The two main recommendations were as follows:
That representation was made to the Government to align the legislation to ensure that any taxi driver who was suspended from driving a taxi due to child protection issues, was also automatically suspended from driving a mini bus.
Operation Stay Safe, which operated in Middlesbrough and involved a van with trained personnel roaming the streets and returning vulnerable young people home between the hours of 10.00 pm and 4.00 am, should increase the number of nights it operated from only twenty per year.
It was acknowledged that although it appeared that Operation Stay Safe was an effective function there was a range of resource, staffing or financial pressures which were preventing the programme from being extended.
Members were not aware of the success rate of Operation Stay Safe in terms of how many young people were picked up and considered to be at risk and identified that the Panel would like this information. In addition, Members queried whether any of the young people picked up were in fact missing from residential care homes. It was confirmed that management of residential care homes for young people would be coming back under Council management shortly.
Members suggested that the Panel needed to obtain further information from other organisations working on the streets with young people on a day to day basis such as The Junction, Pertemps and the Troubled Families Programme.
1. The information provided be received and noted.
2. Arrangements would be made for other organisations working with young people, including representatives from the Council's Children Families and Learning service area, to attend a future meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel.