A mobile phone app is being trialled in Rotherham in a bid to step up the town’s fight against child sexual exploitation.
Rotherham is the first place nationally to launch the innovative app, which is designed to collate non-criminal information and suspicions, which may otherwise be missed.
It is the collection of this information which it is hoped will help police track down further suspects.
The nimos Safeguarding app, designed by Microsoft partner and national IT services company risual (correct), is accessible on mobile phones, tablets and desktop devices. It is aimed at trusted professionals working in areas such as health, education, social services and the voluntary sector.
The Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (RLSCB) has partnered with risual to be the first area nationally to use the app.
Chair Christine Cassell said: “Child sexual exploitation issues here in Rotherham have been well documented and there are now many initiatives in place across partner organisations to tackle this. Health, education workers and the voluntary sector are the very people who notice if something is unusual, so we needed something easy to use so that they can use to report any concerns they have.
The app is the next step in the fight to stamp out this crime, protect children and bring those who commit offences to justice. We wanted something which enabled people to report non-criminal suspicions or information, which when combined with police led intelligence, will help to fight child sexual exploitation. I am delighted we have been able to launch this app and hope it will be successfully rolled out to more of our trusted professionals in the coming weeks to strengthen our approach even further to tackling child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.
The app has already been rolled out to a number of voluntary sector and community groups, including Barnardo’s, as well as health, council and other professional bodies with more to follow over the next few weeks.
Already the app has been used by these groups to report their suspicions, although it is still too early to see if this has made a difference in terms of criminal charges.
The app helps professional and volunteers to report activity which they determine to be suspicious, but not necessarily a crime, as well as details about the vulnerable person and suspected perpetrator. The app can also be used to send in photos and the location of the concern.
Paul Donnelly, Director of Justice Solutions from risual added: Currently a third of people who suspect child abuse do not report it. We are delighted to work with the Rotherham safeguarding board on this innovative project to tackle underreporting and build safer communities through the use of this bespoke app. Clearly it won’t replace the normal way of reporting crimes into the police, but instead will complement this work, by giving police insights and leads they may not otherwise get. The application is the first of its kind and will make a difference to the way intelligence is gathered and give even more strength to the work already underway across the Rotherham area.
He added the new app is already being viewed nationally as something which will be rolled out across the country, based on evaluation in Rotherham.
The collection, development and dissemination of intelligence insights will allow decisions to be made by partner agencies about priorities and tactical options. It will be a continuous process and as the use of the app develops there may be further requirements which emerge from its use and evaluation.