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Lewisham Safeguarding Children Partnership

If you are worried about the welfare or safety of a child or young person

Email: mashagency@lewisham.gov.uk

Tel: 020 8314 6660

Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) Strategy & Resources

It is recognised that procedures and systems developed to safeguard children and young people from risks within the home environment or family can be less effective in addressing extra familial harm. In the last decade Local Authorities began to introduce MACE (multiagency sexual exploitation panels) and many police forces introduced Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Teams .

The MACE panel’s focused on CSE and were introduced in response to  learning form a number of  serious case reviews concerning children that had suffered significant harm due to being sexually exploited. As adolescent safeguarding practice developed over the last  decade, professionals, agencies and the public developed a greater awareness of how extra familiar harm impacted on children and young people.  The multi-faceted nature of adolescent risk became apparent to Local Authorities and safeguarding partners, in addition to child sexual exploitation it was recognised that children & young people were also at risk of criminal exploitation, youth violence and online exploitation. Agencies began to learn more about specific forms of exploitation such as county lines. 

In response to the changing nature of extra familial harm, many Local Authorities across the country began to expand the remit of their MACE panels to cover all forms of child criminal exportation. This development happened at the local level, while there was a common theme of including all forms of extra familial harm, each Local Authority across London developed slightly different processes and procedures, for example Lewisham introduced the Concern Hub in 2019.

There was an expansion of MACE style panels across London following a review in 2020, London wide guidance (2021) was issued and recommended that Local Authorities set up MACE (multi-agency child exploitation) panels and structures. The London guidance recognises that Local Authorities need to respond to local challenges and issues, however provides some common guidance and structure. This will provide some cross Borough consistency and is particularly welcomed by agencies who operate across a number of London Boroughs.

New MACE arrangement for Lewisham

In response to London guidance, the Lewisham partnership reviewed our local arrangements (Concern Hub). In January 2022 we started to transition from the Concern Hub model to a MACE structure based on the new London guidance. In order to ensure that we develop a MACE structure which met Lewisham’s specific needs the partnership has taken an agile approach to the development and implementation Lewisham’s MACE.  

The Lewisham MACE provides a strategic, tactical and operational response to extra familial harm to children and young people across   Lewisham. The definition of extra familial the purpose MACE includes sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, county lines, serious youth violence and harmful sexual behaviour. The strategic approach  to exploitation in Lewisham encompasses 4 key strands  Pursue , Prevent, Protect and Restore.  In developing a Lewisham MACE, the partnership has taken into account some of the unique and innovative aspects that the Concern Hub embodied. The Lewisham MACE considered young people up to the age of 25 and maintains a strong focus on community safety and addressing serious youth violence.

The MACE terms of reference and procedures were signed off by the LSCP executive in August 2022 and are in the final stages of implementation. 

MACE Structure

The partnership have developed a 3 tiered MACE structure, to support partnership working across key agencies to address the multifaceted nature of extra familial harm to children and young people within the local context.

  1. Pre—MACE, This is a bi-weekly operational meeting co-chaired by police and children social care. The purpose is to review referrals, ensure appropriate safeguarding with the MACE risk rating. The pre-mace identifies high risk cases or thematic issues to be escalated to the monthly MACE .
  2. MACE (tactical) this is a monthly panel including key safeguarding partners and co-chaired by a Senior Police Officer and a Senior Children Social Care Manager. The panel review high risk cases escalated by pre-mace, to ensure that all agencies are working effectively together and using all powers and resources at their disposal to ensure that the child or young person is safeguarded. The panel review exploitation related data from a number of sources and thematic issues raised by partners to ensure there is an appropriate multiagency tactical response.
  3. MACE Strategic. The strategic panel is made up of senior managers from across the partnership and is chaired by the police. The strategic mace is responsible for the implementation of the Child Exploitation Strategy and Action Plan. The Strategic MACE reports directly to the LSCP Executive.

The MACE does not in any way replace established statutory safeguarding procedures and professional should always follow up the established safeguarding pathway. If any professional, individual or family member is concerned for the welfare or safety of a child they should make a MASH referral or in the case of the child with an allocated social worker contact the social worker directly. If it is believed that the child is in imminent risk of harm, the advice is to contact emergency services on 999 before contacting children social care.

Referral pathway.

It is encouraged that Social Work Teams convey a Strategy Meeting prior to referring to pre-mace, this is to ensure that all immediate safeguarding actions are taken and information is shared with key agencies. It is the responsibility of the Social Work Team to make a pre-mace referral if they believe the child or young person they are working with is at risk of sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, serious youth violence or harmful sexualised behaviour. All pre-mace referrals concerning children should be made by the allocated social worker or lead professional.

In the case of young adults aged 18 to 25, if they are Care Leavers it is the responsibility of the personal advisor, to complete a pre-mace referral. If the young person aged 18 to 25 is not a care leaver any can make a referral directly into the young adults pre-mace.

Lewisham Child Exploitation Strategy

Appendix A Forms of Child Exploitation

Appendix B Child Exploitation Key Indicators

Appendix C Best Practice - Safeguarding & Child Exploitation Processes

Appendix D Local and National Child Exploitation Resources

Appendix E MACE Terms of Reference

Appendix F MACE Performance Outcomes

Appendix G Pre-MACE Chairs Reporting Template

Appendix H MACE Agenda Template

Appendix I Data Sharing Agreement

Appendix J MACE Referral Pathway

Appendix K MACE Referral Form

Appendix L Strategic Business Plan


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