Ofsted praises city in its fight against sexual exploitation
CITY council work to protect children in Derby from sexual exploitation has been praised by national watchdog Ofsted.
The comments come in a report which rates the authority's child protection services as "good", after a surprise inspection in the wake of two major prosecutions in the city.
The council's services for protecting children at risk from sexual exploitation were overhauled following the two prosecutions in 2010 and last year.
The first saw 13 men jailed for up to 22 years for their part in the abuse of 27 young victims following a police investigation called Operation Retriever.
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And last year, Operation Kern led to eight men being jailed for a total of 42 years for plying underage girls with alcohol, drugs and gifts before paying them for sex.
In both cases, some of the victims were in the care of the council.
After the second set of sentences, Andrew Bunyan, the council's strategic director for children and young people, said that the authority was determined to "improve the protection for children in care".
He said: "Since the operations, the Derby Safeguarding Children Board has set up a child sexual exploitation subgroup to ensure that different agencies work closely together to promote early identification of children and young people who may be at risk."
Now it seems the work is coming to fruition, as the Ofsted report praises it.
The document says the council had "an uncompromising approach to protecting children at risk of sexual exploitation".
It adds: "The work to manage and address issues of child sexual exploitation is robust and effective, with full engagement of all partner agencies at both strategic and operational levels.
"The overall effectiveness of the arrangements to protect children in Derby is judged to be good."
It says the council had strong leadership with "clear strategic vision".
The report praises the successful recruitment and retention of social workers and good case management and risk assessments. It also notes agencies in Derby were working well together to protect children at risk from harm.
Councillor Martin Rawson, cabinet member for children and young people, said lessons had been learned since Kern and Retriever.
He said: "The Derby Safeguarding Children Board has really done an excellent job of bringing the council, police, and health authorities together so they are all talking to each other and sharing information.
"The council is extremely proud of this achievement.
"I commend the staff involved in the protection of the city's most vulnerable children.
"Their dedication, support and care enriches the lives of children whose start in life is difficult at no fault of their own."
Good is the second-best rating on a four-part scale for Ofsted inspections of children's services, with the others being outstanding, adequate and inadequate.
The report says there were still improvements that could be made, including bringing in a system for the analysis of feedback on how the service is doing and speeding up plans to improve IT.
The rigorous eight-day unannounced inspection by five inspectors took place in early December.
Inspectors attended child protection reviews and a sexual exploitation strategy meeting and went on a visit with a child practitioner.
They tracked 57 individual child protection cases and met 17 children and young people, 24 parents, carers and family members to hear their view on the level of service the council provides.
In total they reviewed over 165 different documents and evidence.
Ofsted said it would not comment further on individual cases.