How many Hartlepool children are at risk of sexual exploitation?
Almost one child a week in Hartlepool is being identified by protection officials as at risk of being sexually exploited.
In 2016/17 50 young people were flagged up by the Hartlepool Safeguarding Children Board due to their behaviour.
That was an increase from 39 young people the previous year.
The numbers, along with those in care or who are made the subject of local authority action plans are detailed by the safeguarding children board’s independent chair Dave Pickard in its annual report.
There were no cases identified of children being trafficked and the board says the increase in the number of cases is a positive sign that efforts to identify and help youngsters are working.
The report states: “The increase in the number of children being vulnerable and at risk of exploitation can be attributed to improved identification of vulnerability, but this has implications for the board over the coming year.”
The board says children classed as “vulnerable” of “exploited” or “missing” or “trafficked” remains one of the board’s top priorities.
The number of children looked after by the local authority as of March 231, 017 was 258 compared to 208 in 2016.
But the number of proceedings seeking to place a child in care has significantly increased from 33 in 2015/16 to 62 in 2016/17.
The annual report adds: “Feedback from referrers indicates that families are facing unprecedented challenges including issues with substance misuse and welfare reform”.
Going forward the board says it will seek assurances that support for families with substance misuse issues are more effective.
Child referrals to social care increased by 369 in to 1,291 in 2016/17. Again the board says it is a reflection of better information sharing meaning children that need an assessment are now receiving help.
In 2017/17, 156 Hartlepool children were subject to Child Protection Plans drawn up by the local authority setting out how the child can be kept safe.
That was an increase from 127 the previous year.
The safeguarding board says professionals have received more training to give them the skills to combat the increase.
The annual report, including work undertaken in the last year, will be considered by the Health and Wellbeing Board on Monday morning at Hartlepool civic centre.