East London boroughs form new safeguarding partnership for children at risk of exploitation

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In a bid to keep young people who are at risk of exploitation and crime safe, three east London boroughs will be sharing resources.

The Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge (BHR) Safeguarding Partnerships is an agreement between the three boroughs, the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Metropolitan police to collaborate and protect at-risk children.

Directors from each local authority, the borough police commander and the CCG's chief nurse will initially meet every six weeks.

Each borough will have its own safeguarding group, but they will also work across the three borough footprint when it makes sense to do so.

Councillor Robert Benham, Havering's cabinet member for education, children and families, said: "When it comes to safeguarding, the boundaries between the three boroughs are irrelevant.

"It makes sense for the three boroughs to work closely in this way when we have knowledge and expertise that we can share to ensure that immediate steps are taken to protect and safeguard the young people and families at greatest risk."

A new group will replace the existing local safeguarding board in Havering.

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It will work directly with local partners and will be chaired by the director of children's services, Tim Aldridge.

The Havering group will also develop an annual work programme and identify the priorities, but a key focus will remain on the safety of teenagers and the risk presented by county lines, modern slavery and criminal exploitation.

An independent expert will also be commissioned to scrutinise the group.

Redbridge cllr Elaine Norman, and cabinet member for children and young people, added: "We've always worked very closely and effectively with the police and our health partners to protect the most vulnerable in Redbridge, and the new approach will enable us to strengthen our partnership with neighbouring boroughs to keep children, families and adults healthy and safe across east London."

A spokesman from Barking and Dagenham Council added: "We are pleased to have published plans for our new Safeguarding Partnership - plans that build on the strong foundations put in place by our local safeguarding children board.

"We welcome the opportunity to review how we work to protect our most vulnerable children and young people and are pleased that we have been able to develop plans with our partners that place the needs of the children and young people at their heart, whilst also taking the opportunity to work collaboratively with our neighbouring boroughs where we feel there could be significant benefit."

Every local authority is required by law to publish their plan by the end of June 2019 and have the new arrangements in place by September 2019.