Serious Case Review published into Child Sexual Exploitation case

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Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Yeovil

Today a Serious Case Review has been published by the Somerset Safeguarding Children Board following ‘Operation Fenestra’ an investigation into the sexual exploitation of children in the Yeovil area between 2010 and 2014. As a result of that operation and following a trial at Taunton Crown Court, two men were convicted of sexual offences against six victims aged between 14 and 15 and a seventh victim aged 18. Mehmet Citak, 34, was jailed for 20 years while Ahmet Kurtyemez, 29, was sentenced to 12 years.

CSE is defined as a type of sexual abuse where someone takes advantage of anyone under the age of 18 sexually, for their own or other people’s benefit or enjoyment. This frequently involves using threats, bribes, violence, humiliation, or emotional blackmail.

The report, written by Edi Carmi, includes input from the victims of CSE, parents of children who have experienced CSE and focus groups of school children. It looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the system at the time the offences took place and highlights lessons learned and opportunities that were missed by various agencies and organisations. While it may have been that none of the incidents, in themselves, could have led to the discovery of what was happening, they were each an opportunity missed to try and find out.

Sally Halls, the Independent Chair of the SSCB, said: “A great deal has changed and improved in Somerset since these offences took place, much of it driven by this case….the public perception is that CSE is something that happens only in big cities, usually in other parts of the country. The uncomfortable truth is that it can happen to children of all backgrounds in communities across the country, including a rural county like Somerset.”

The report makes a number of  findings which include:

  • There can be difficulty distinguishing between informed consent for adolescent sexual activity and coercion/inappropriate relationships – because of difficulties reconciling national guidance and the law relating to sexual activity.
  • A tendency to focus on short-term intervention for perceived parenting deficits, without taking time to hear parents’ worries about risks outside the family.
  • The need for CSE investigations to be able to develop consistent relationships with alleged victims over a long period.
  • That linking information within and between agencies is integral to protecting children from harm – improvements have been made but there is scope for further development.
  • That children who are at risk of, or who have experienced CSE need accessible, timely and skilled support for their emotional and mental health problems.
  • There is a need for early multi-agency collaboration and consistent, persistent relationship-based intervention.
  • shortcomings in the early stages of the police investigation including the level of multi-agency involvement but highlighted some successes once it was fully underway.

All agencies including the police have been keen to stress that much has changed in terms of policies and procedures since the time covered by this report. You can read the full text of the review here: Operation Fenestra – Serious Case Review