TRAINING on spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation should be made compulsory for councillors, Councillor Pat Witherspoon told members of the borough’s executive committee on Tuesday (October 13).
Her call came after the committee had approved a county-wide child sexual exploitation (CSE) strategy which recognises that ‘CSE is child abuse and is a crime; the victims are children; it is squarely a community safety issue; and the failure is not the existence of CSE but in not recognising it and taking appropriate action’.
Committee members heard that so far there had been only one reported incident of possible organised CSE activity in the county and that there was no indication that disclosures or reporting have been ignored as was the case in Rotherham.
However Coun Witherspoon (Lab, Church Hill) said: “The issue of child sexual exploitation is something we should have mandatory training on. You only have to look at the news to hear and see about child sexual exploitation and abuse, so we have to be up there making a statement and we should have training on how to be aware and how to raise concerns.
“We may be yet to find any cases in Redditch but believe me we have them because they happen everywhere and it’s having the awareness of it because ultimately we are responsible for the children of Redditch.”
She was backed by Coun Juliet Brunner (Con, M’boro) who said prevention was better than cure.
Council Leader Coun Bill Hartnett (Lab, Church Hill) replied that the council was unable to make such training compulsory but said everyone would be actively encouraged to undertake it.
Councillors voted unanimously to endorse the county’s position on the issue.