Row over Islington’s child sex exploitation figures
- Credit: Archant
Town Hall only provides data for 2 years in FOI request
A row has erupted over the way the town hall keeps records of sexually exploited children.
Last month, Islington Council and police launched well-publicised drive to minimise the problem by training people, such as bar-workers sand taxi drivers, to spot the signs of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), dubbed operation Makesafe.
Following the campaign, former council leader Terry Stacy - now Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Islington South and Finsbury - made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the town hall enquiring how many teens had been a victim of CSE in the borough.
In reply, the council said there were 37 cases last year and 36 the year before - some involving teens as young as 13.
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But local authority said it was unable to provide figures for any years prior to 2013.
They say this is because the information wasn’t collected electronically, but Mr Stacy describes the response as “worrying”.
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He said: “Child sexual exploitation is a terrible crime with destructive and far reaching consequences for victims, their families and society.
“These figures are extremely worrying and what makes them worse is that the Labour council cannot provide any figures for previous years because it was not collected in a “reportable format”.
“Either you know or you don’t?
“With what has happened in places like Rotherham and our report into missing children in the care of the council last year, we demanded the council introduce new measures to keep vulnerable children safe and what do get from Labour is a PR Stunt aimed at cab drivers.
“It is just not good enough.”
A spokesman for the council said it now has an electronic way of counting, however the information was previously always in individual files, making it harder to retrieve.
Alan Caton, chair of the Islington Safeguarding Board said: “Our work in this area and understanding of the issue has continued to improve, but we cannot tackle this issue alone.
“We need the assistance of the public; who should let us know about any concerns which could provide staff or the police with the opportunity to intervene before any harm occurs.”
Anyone who has any information about a child who is at risk of CSE should contact 0207 527 7400.