Stone King has welcomed a national review into Child Safeguarding Practice due to begin in March.
Edward Timpson CBE, Chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, wrote to Secretary of State Damien Hinds informing him of the review which will be held following serious child safeguarding cases involving young people.
“We have received notification of a significant number of serious child safeguarding cases which raise issues which are complex and of national importance in relation to adolescents in need of state protection from criminal exploitation,” said Mr Timpson in his letter.
“The review will commence in March 2019, and complete within six months.”
Stone King advises schools on a range of issues including safeguarding, and has recently published guidance for independent schools following reports at the end of last year of pupils being targeted as part of County Lines exploitation.
“A joint report published recently by the education, police, care and probation inspectorates suggests that drug dealers are coercing children from independent schools to take part in county lines drug running,” said Senior Associate Charlotte Melhuish.
“It states some gangs have begun deliberately targeting affluent children who are considered by the groups to be less likely to be identified by police as being ‘at risk’. The issue is a growing problem, with almost 90 per cent of police forces reporting evidence of county lines activity last year.”
The safeguarding review will be led by qualified barrister Dale Simon CBE who has over 20 years’ experience of child abuse prosecutions and policy development and was previously the Director of Public Accountability and Inclusion at the Crown Prosecution Service.
Dale will be supported by Panel Members, Mark Gurrey and Karen Manners. Mr Gurrey is Chair of the South Gloucestershire Improvement Board, Chair of Wiltshire Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) and was previously Chair of the LSCB for Devon.
Mr Gurrey is a qualified social worker and for the last 10 years has worked as a leader in a number of authorities in intervention. Karen Manners was formerly Deputy Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police with over 32 years of experience in policing.
She was the national lead for policing on the Vulnerability Action Plan. An expert team will be recruited from our pool of national reviewers to assist them and Isabelle Trowler, the Government's Chief Social Worker, will work closely with them offering advice and support as required.
Mr Timpson will have oversight of the review and will sign-off progress on a monthly basis.
He also said the review panel intends to publish non-statutory practice guidance to local safeguarding partners on how they will work together and in collaboration with others improve safeguarding practice locally.
The Rt Hon Damian Hinds said in his reply:
“We know that criminal exploitation has blighted too many young lives, and the Government has made clear through the Serious Violence Strategy that tackling this is an absolute priority. The announcement of the Panel’s first review is a key milestone in our reforms to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and will complement the work we are driving at local level to introduce stronger and more flexible safeguarding partnerships. It is vital that we work together across government to learn from serious incidents and support improvements to services where they are needed to ensure the right protection is there for some of the most vulnerable children in our society.