An article in the Dewsbury Reporter shows that child protection alerts in Kirklees have nearly doubled since 2008.
From April 2012 to March 2013, 127 referrals were made to Kirklees Safeguarding Children Board (KSBC) where there were concerns about people working with children, up from 67 in 2008/2009.
A report is supposed to be made to Kirklees’ Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) if it is alleged someone who works with children may have harmed them, behaved inappropriately or committed an offence.
Cases peaked at 130 in 2011/2012, but KSCB said they viewed the rise in recent years as a positive sign that people working in social services, education, the police and the voluntary sector were becoming more aware of child protection issues.
Last year, the bulk of concerns were raised against people working in education, but the biggest rise in referrals came from the voluntary sector, particularly faith groups.
A report by the KSBC said a ‘faith task group’ has been created to work with madrassahs and mosques in response to the rise. The LADO has also met Kirklees Imams Advisory Board (KIMAB) to discuss responses to allegations against teaching staff in madrassahs.
KIMAB representatives said that mosque and madrassah management should be involved in the same way as any other organisation when allegations are made. Around 40,000 children attend madrassahs in Kirklees.
A KSCB spokesman said: “The rise in the number of referrals is partly due to increased vigilance among the general public about child protection issues, but also due to increased awareness within organisations about the role of the LADO and the importance of following up concerns about adults who work with children.
“KSCB has been proactive in promoting the LADO role and we see the increase as a positive development. In addition, the public’s level of awareness has risen nationally and this is reflected in the local data. As the figures show, there is a national trend for people to express their concerns more readily when they are worried about the welfare of a child.
“Fewer people now ‘turn a blind eye’ or choose to keep their concerns to themselves.
“Clearly this is welcome as it means agencies are often intervening at an earlier stage and are able to help a greater number [of] children who may be at risk.”
Lisa Jackson, Lead Solicitor of the Child Abuse Compensation department at Dewsbury based solicitors, Jordans, said, “These figures are worrying and gratifying in equal measures. The fact that there was almost double the number of referrals of inappropriate and/or abusive behaviour in these sectors is definitely a cause for concern.
However, as the article rightly states, the higher number of referrals suggests that people are more aware of these issues, and are now prepared to bring them to the attention of the authorities, and this can only be a good thing.”