Child services boss says it needs citizens’ help protecting children from paedophiles

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The child services boss at the Western Trust says health and social workers in Londonderry needs citizens’ help protecting children from paedophiles.

Kieran Downey, director of women and children’s services and executive director of social work for the Western Health and Social Care Trust said: “The safety and protection of children remains a fundamental priority for Health and Social Care Trusts and social workers exhibit great commitment and dedication on a daily basis to ensure this remains the case.

“Trusts cannot address child protection and the risk of sexual offenders without the help of the wider community. Everyone has a role in preventing child abuse and helping to safeguard children. Raising awareness of this type of this is essential.”

He made the comments following a two day child protection conference which brought together professionals from across health and social care to share best practice in the safeguarding of children.

The conference focused on the topic of ‘sexual offending’, an issue that has been identified as an unmet need in relation to the knowledge base needed amongst frontline safeguarding practitioners.

Facilitated by Leonard Consultancy and Associates, the conference professionals aimed to create awareness in relation to the myths and realities of sexual offending and the impact of offender’s behaviour on victims and survivors.

Keynote speaker at the Conference, Marcella Leonard (Director Leonard Consultancy) has been working closely with the Western Trust in planning the Conference and workshops and said: “The Western Trust has always been at the forefront in assessment and treatment with persons who have sexually offended and this conference has continued this by providing safeguarding practitioners with current theoretical and practice insights into the work with sex offenders.”

Mr Downey said: “As a Trust we are delighted to host this regional conference and put the spotlight on the paramount issue of sexual offending. On behalf of the Trust, I would like to thank Marcella Leonard for taking the time to share her extensive knowledge on what is a very complex issue.”

The Western Trust Gateway Service is the first point of contact for anyone who is concerned about a child or young person. The Gateway team can be contacted by calling the following number 02871 314090. This is a single Trust wide number.

The NSPCC has a dedicated helpline in relation to child sexual exploitation. If you need advice or information or if you have concerns about a child at risk of Sexual Exploitation and abuse you can call the help line on 0800 389 1701.