Chair's blog

March 2018

Many people reading this will be well aware that Leeds has been at the forefront of safeguarding practice nationally for a long time now, and has championed a child and family focused, restorative approach, building a mature partnership between all those agencies with a responsibility for safeguarding.

So I am delighted to say here, that following the new Government legislation as recommended by the Wood Review, a Leeds Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP) will be established from the 9th April.

The LSCP will be an independent intermediary body between those agencies with statutory responsibly for safeguarding (Children’s Services, Health and the Police) and all others across the sector that collectively take care of all our children as future safeguarding arrangements are developed and agreed. During the transitional period the partnership will continue to be independently chaired and the functions of the LSCP will continue under the LSCP.

Once again Leeds as a city continues to prioritise safeguarding children in the most difficult of financial circumstances. Evidence I feel, of the clear commitment and support in the city from the Chief Executive on down through the political spectrum, and across all our communities to meet the needs of our children.

I often talk about the great work safeguarding professionals bring to their work every day, but it is also fair to say that none of us could do that without the overall support of our agencies and the good offices of our elected member. So our safeguarding partnership is wide, in that we directly support children and young people across the city, but is also deeply entrenched and reflective of strongly held values and commitment.  Altogether, that’s what makes us strong.

This commitment is further evidenced as we approach National Child  Sexual Exploitation Day on March 18th.

The objective of the day is to raise the public profile of CSE and encourage everyone to THINK, SPOT and SPEAK-OUT against abuse, encouraging a zero tolerance approach to CSE.

On a direct basis you can show your support by joining in the Helping Hands Campaign, writing a personal pledge on your hand and uploading a photo on social media at #Helping Hands.

Here in Leeds we recognise that Child Sexual Exploitation is one form of exploitation which has malicious tentacles entwined through trafficking, modern slavery and other forms of abuse, that have local, national and sometimes international dimensions linked to criminal activities relevant to both young men and women. It’s more complex and endemic than perhaps we first thought when CSE rocketed into public consciousness through high profile cases across the country, from Rochdale to Oxford and Rotherham. But however recently issues have been in the headlines, the news agenda moves on, and it is surprising how quickly issues can ‘drop off the radar’. So CSE day on the 18th is timely, and I would ask you to lend whatever support you can.

Throughout the safeguarding partnership, we need to continue to ‘apply a lens’ to what we see and hear, and look out for exploitation, linking back to the message of the day, THINK, SPOT, SPEAK-OUT.

I had to think carefully about my personal pledge for the Helping Hands Campaign. As it’s fair to say that sadly I have far more limited day to day contact with young people than used to be the case. So I couldn’t in all honesty pledge what a Teacher, Social Worker or Health Visitor might, that “ I will listen to what young people say”.  My pledge needs to reflect what I can actually deliver and also be something through which I could hold myself to account. So my pledge is, “I will be a voice for you”.

You can learn more about how you can join the debate and show your support via the NWG website.