MORE than 60 youngsters in Shropshire have been highlighted as being at “identified risk” of child sexual exploitation.

Shropshire Council’s Health and Wellbeing board was told at a meeting on Thursday that 67 children are at risk in the county, but none are currently being exploited.

Of these, 15 are looked after children who originate from outside the area, while only six are boys.

Ivan Powell, Shropshire Safeguarding Children Board’s independent chairman, presented a report to the committee which showed 15 children are classed as “high risk.”

He said: “At the year end, CSE was an identified risk for 67 children (15 of these being OLAC – out of area looked after children), only six were male.

“The breakdown of the risk levels are: Being exploited: 0; High: 15 – of these four were managed on child protection plans and two managed on children in need plans and the others are currently being assessed by the assessment team.

“Medium risk accounts for 27 and low risk is 25.

“Most referrals in 2017/18 were for females and were made by schools, social workers, private care homes and school nurses.

“Referrals from health agencies remained low.

“The CSE profile for Shropshire indicates that the most common type of exploitation involves young women aged 13 to 15 years being exploited online or by male peers or young adult males.

“The local profile suggests there may be an under-identification of male victims.”

Mr Powell added that the reporting showed some significant details geographically.

“Most referrals come from the north of the county, followed by central Shropshire, with few referrals from the south,” he said.

“The SSCB is confident that overall the understanding of CSE has improved, but there are still areas of the county where referral rates are low, and this issue is being considered by the board.

“SSCB has a robust training schedule in place, including single agency and multiagency training delivered across Shropshire, open to all partners.

“CSE is a topic covered in the induction of all new staff and throughout safeguarding training.

“Specialist training is delivered for those in specialist roles, for example social work staff to ensure they have the right skills and knowledge to carry out their duties.”

Councillor Madge Shineton, member for Cleobury Mortimer, said she supported all work to tackle CSE but added that she wanted to see a “smoother” pathway for reporting.

Mr Powell added: “The Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) and The Children’s Society delivered a workshop to all professionals across West Mercia who work with children and young people to improve their knowledge and understanding of child sexual exploitation.

“Schools also have access to E-Safety resources.”