Over 700 kids at risk of sexual abuse in West Midlands – report

© Olivia Harris
Hundreds of children in the West Midlands are at risk of sexual exploitation in public places and care homes, new figures show.

Nearly 720 children are suspected to be at risk in the area, a combined report from Birmingham council, the NHS and West Midlands Police has revealed. The report says 372 suspected offenders have been identified as threats to children living in Coventry, Birmingham and the Black Country.

A second report from the police into the risk of exploitation found more than 90 places where children were likely to be at risk, including 17 children’s homes and 14 hotels.

They also identified parks, supermarkets and even the homes of young people as places where children are likely to be targeted.

The report was originally published in March but has now been made public, Press Association reported on Thursday.

Councils and police said that they intend to work together to combat those “intent on abusing and exploiting children and young people by disrupting and prosecuting perpetrators."

Birmingham Council created a new scheme in 2014 which allows local authorities to work together to share information.

Stephen Rimmer, regional strategic lead on preventing violence against vulnerable people, said that he had faith the new system.

"I am clear this framework has been seriously road-tested operationally over the last 12 months and reflects major learning nationally and locally over that period,” he said.

READ MORE: Majority of UK children in poverty from working families – report

"There is strong commitment from the agencies to work together to protect our children and to hold the abusers to account – but we need to work better with young people, parents and communities.”

Rimmer added the new figures showed there was more work to be done to tackle the threat of child sex exploitation.

"The latest figures show that there are now 720 girls and boys on our 'risk radar' – this is much closer to the real figure than ever before and we are collectively determined to do all we can to protect them all, and to bear down on the 372 suspected offenders also identified,” he said.

"We have more to do, but we are getting to grips with this serious problem, and putting the framework in place will be another major step forward.”

Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes stressed the report gave "real insight" into the threat, saying that they were making “great steps” to improve.

"We have invested a significant amount of force resources and training into the service we provide and there is no doubt that there has been a significant cultural change,” he said.

"We are seeing more victims coming forward to report abuse, knowing we will take their allegations seriously and treat them sensitively and respectfully.”