Birmingham City Council has obtained injunctions against a number of men who have been found inappropriately in the company of a vulnerable young woman.
Peter Hay, Director of People, Birmingham City Council:
â€œAlthough there is not enough evidence for a criminal conviction at present, we do have enough information to obtain injunctions â€“ these use a lower evidence threshold and the balance of probability.
â€œThis is a ground-breaking approach, finding new ways to protect victims.
â€œWe have to recognise that previous ways of dealing with this have not always worked. Too often the victim has not seen herself as a victim so it has been difficult to use the conventional criminal prosecution route.
â€œBecause perpetrators befriend their victims and make them feel special it is therefore harder to gather concrete evidence to use against them.
â€œFor far too long, men committing abuse have seen this as something they control; this is about taking control away from them and giving control to the victims. It gives them a safe space in which to come to terms with their exploitation.
â€œOur approach has to evolve and we have to find innovative ways of working; we believe we are the first local authority to use this approach. However, we couldnâ€™t do this without the police. We have used intelligence gathered by both agencies as well as evidence of perpetratorsâ€™ criminal activities.
â€œThis doesnâ€™t replace the criminal process but it is about finding complementary ways of working together to do all we can to safeguard vulnerable children.
â€œThe legislation we are using was historically used to protect children before the introduction of the Children Act 1989, which gave a statutory basis for most child protection needs, so has rarely been used since.
â€œThis is about making children safer; we are already starting work on our next set of proceedings and I would fully expect to see other local authorities following our lead.
â€œThe young woman in question comes from a large family and has been known to Birmingham social services for a number of years.
â€œShe is a bright young woman who cares deeply about her family, especially her siblings.
â€œHowever, she is also a troubled young woman and up until September this year she was reported missing to police 102 times since July 2010.
â€œWe strongly believe that she is being consistently sexually exploited and has been since her early teenage years.Â Every time she goes missing a police investigation is launched. She has been found in hotel rooms with men in states of undress and in a state of intoxication, despite lack of funds.
â€œDespite many attempts to work with her to understand the risks she was placing herself in, she continued to have contact with these men.
â€œShe is now safe, in secure accommodation for her own protection.â€
DCSupt Danny Long, Head of Public Protection Unit, West Midlands Police:
â€œThis is an innovative legal approach â€“ the use of an existing power to tackle an evolving crime.
â€œThe injunctions give us the power to help to protect young people without putting them at the heart of a judicial process.
â€œChild sexual exploitation (CSE) victims do not recognise that they are being abused.Â If you do not recognise that you are being abused then you do not realise that you need protecting.
â€œThis approach offers the child protection, whilst letting us concentrate on those who we believe are committing abuse, we are taking the suspected abuser’s control away from them.
â€œThese injunctions do not replace the criminal process but rather sit alongside it.Â They are not a soft or easy option.Â This is an additional opportunity to offer protection and safety to those who are most vulnerable, at a time when they need it most.Â
â€œThese injunctions are given by the highest court.Â They have complex dossiers of information and intelligence, months of police and children’s services work sitting behind them and are part of a careful and considered policing operation.â€