FOI Request Review of Grooming and CSE
Original Request and Response at http://www.moray.gov.uk/moray_standard/page_116285.html
I wish a review of this request. You ahve not provided any details on how many investigations, or how many children have been deemed at risk of CSE, per year for the years you d have the data - 2015 onwards.
I also want to emphasise I have asked every local authority in Scotland for this information, and have had no problems in being given the raw figures.
Following your request for a review of our response to the FOI you submitted, 101001652725 a review meeting was held at the council offices on 12th December 2017. In attendance were the Records and Heritage Manager, Senior Solicitor, Head of Integrated Children's Services and the Information Coordinator.
Your request for a review was discussed and you were correct in that there was no information provided regarding the number of investigations in relation to grooming over the time period requested, for which we apologise. The response previously provided will be updated to reflect the following discussions:
Request for information about grooming and CSE
The Head of Integrated Children's Services advised that, both post and prior to 2015, the way in which the information is recorded, the category of ‘grooming’ is not used in our recording system- only the heading of ‘exploitation’ which is broader than the more specific ‘grooming’ and ‘CSE’. In order to identify grooming cases / investigations the department would have to go through each individual child’s file to see if the social worker responsible for the case had made the judgement that the situation was ‘grooming’ or ‘CSE’, recorded this in the file and launched an investigation. Given this, it would take significant time and expense to find and provide the number of grooming cases / investigations. Therefore, the information is exempt under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002- Excessive cost of compliance as it would exceed the 40 hour limit set by the SIC to find, collate and provide this information (Over 700 files for the past 2 years alone).
Child Protection Register records
Under Section 16 of the 2002 Act, it was agreed that, as we do have information regarding the number of children on the Child Protection Register under the heading of ‘exploitation’ (which would potentially include those at risk of CSE), it could be offered as information in relation to this request. However, as the numbers found were so small this was then exempted under Section 38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 as Personal Information, as there is a risk that disclosure of such small numbers could lead to individuals being identified. This was also discussed at the review meeting and it was agreed that this information should remain exempt for this reason.
Disclosure by other authorities
The Records and Heritage Manager addressed your final point, regarding disclosure by other authorities, saying that each local authority manages its own information in its own way, including its release under their own carefully managed processes in line with FOI(S)A. It should also be noted that Moray is a very small area and reports far fewer incidences of CSE and Grooming than some larger authorities as it has a smaller population. Other, larger, councils may be able to release larger, broader numbers as they have larger, broader populations making identification of individuals more difficult and, therefore, less of a risk under Section 38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.
Advice and assistance under section 16 of the 2002 FOI(S)A.
The Head of Integrated Children's Services also advised that it may be prudent for the requester to approach Police Scotland who may be able to provide statistical information into investigations around grooming and CSE.