Sandys and Gale: “Lessons from Rochdale Learned As Minister Takes Action to Strengthen Protection for Vulnerable Children in Care.”
Margate police ‘Risk-Mapping’ to be rolled out across the country
After a long campaign against the out-of-area placement of looked-after children, Sir Roger Gale and Laura Sandys, MPs for Thanet, have this (Tuesday) morning welcomed the announcement by the Department for Education of a review of the appalling situation that permits children to be placed hundreds of miles away from their home areas into extremely deprived neighbourhoods.
Laura and Roger, who have worked closely with Thanet police and Headteachers on the issue said: “The shocking events in Rochdale were a real wake-up call to Government that enough was enough. We can no longer tolerate this Dickensian situation that allows vulnerable children to be relocated without any assessment of whether that environment is safe or suitable.
In Thanet, we have 243 children in care from outside the area . This has placed a big burden on the police and schools who are often not informed about these vulnerable children arriving in the East Kent”
“On Newsnight and in meetings with the Minister for Children, Tim Loughton MP, we have called for three policy changes to ensure the safety of vulnerable children. Today, we have secured a real victory as each of these policies will be considered through a Departmental Working Group. We are hopeful that this policy change will ensure that Thanet is no longer a centre for looked after children and that vulnerable children are homed in the safest most appropriate environments as close to home as practicable. Government has listened and responded to the challenges we have faced locally with a clear set of policies to prevent child sexual exploitation.”
The Department for Education’s Report, ‘Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan’ outlines three key issues to enhance protections for children in care:
New arrangements for better data sharing between different agencies;
Barriers in regulation removed so Ofsted can share locations of children’s homes with police;
New task and finish group to review placement planning and out of area placements by Sept. The group will focus on how authorities can undertake “risk mapping” – as piloted in Margate - for those areas where there are high concentrations of children’s homes.