Birmingham City Council is showing partners across the country how – along with West Midlands Police – it took innovative steps to obtain civil injunctions against men suspected of being involved in child sexual exploitation.
Following landmark court hearings which saw injunctions obtained against 10 men, the city council and police were inundated with queries from other local authorities, police forces and legal representatives, keen to explore this further.
The council’s legal team came up with the idea of using a little-used but long-standing legal power with its roots in the feudal system.
This jurisdiction was previously used to protect vulnerable children with some regularity until the commencement date of The Children Act 1989 which gave a statutory basis for most child protection needs and since September 1991 it has been rarely used.
It’s particularly useful in CSE cases where there often isn’t enough evidence for a criminal prosecution, as these injunctions require a lower evidence threshold and the balance of probability.
As a result a conference for professionals is today (Thursday 26 February) taking place. It will look at decision-making about releasing evidence to the local authority, standard of proof and evidence required, local authority considerations prior to starting procedures, and media opportunities and challenges.
More than 20 local authorities, including Cornwall, Essex, Yorkshire, Blackpool, Kent and Cambridgeshire, are attending the conference, alongside police forces from across the country.
Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services who is introducing the conference, said: “The rulings back in November were the start of a revolution in tackling CSE. We are delighted to be sharing what Birmingham has done so that children across the country can be safeguarded through these new techniques.
“I can’t speak highly enough of our dedicated staff and partners who, instead of deciding that nothing could be done beyond the traditional approach, were determined to find another way to protect our young people.
“Together with our partners and the help of communities we will tackle this crime together.”