YOUNGSTERS who could be at risk of child sexual exploitation in Inverclyde are to be made a top priority as a result of an abuse scandal in England.

In light of the damning report into the Rotherham revelations a new group has been set up to make sure all vulnerable children in the area can be identified and protected.

As part of a comprehensive response in the wake of shocking events elsewhere, a Child Sexual Exploitation group will fully test all practices in Inverclyde to ensure that young people are safe from harm.

The taskforce will then report back to council chief executive John Mundell, pictured, and other senior officers.

Inverclyde Council’s head of child services, Sharon McAlees, told councillors and other members of the local community health and social care partnership (ICHCP) that her organisation is going through all of the recommendations made by the author of the damning report into Rotherham.

The local Child Protection Committee has debated the issues raised by the report.

In response, they decided to set up a dedicated group looking specifically at child sexual exploitation, developing a detailed strategic and operational plan.

They are also looking at what role councillors play in child protection matters and examining the culture that led to thousands of children in English towns being exploited by gangs of predatory men, and considering what lessons can be learned in Inverclyde.

Members of the ICHCP committee discussed confidential matters related to the report in private at a meeting last week.

Ms McAlees, head of children’s services in the district, moved to reassure the committee members that her organisation was fully committed to revisiting all procedures and making sure that everything necessary is in place.

She said: “We need to reassure ourselves that we are getting our approach correct.”