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Multi Agency Child Exploitation – Meet the Team

Date: Wednesday, 03rd Mar 2021 | Category: General, Newsletter February 2021

The Multi Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) Panels are the forum for safeguarding children at risk of exploitation with a partnership arena. MACE panels contribute to the wider Staffordshire County Council Contextual Safeguarding Implementation and is explicitly linked to the ‘See Me, Hear Me’ Framework as published by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent MACE panels work together with Catch 22 to provide a joined up approach to identifying the need of, then building relationships with children and young people and their families to disrupt  links to exploitation, working restoratively in a child centred approach.

Today we meet the people who do this on a daily basis plus read on to see how the process is working within our schools and communities.

Gareth Walker

Hi I’m Gareth I came to a career of social worker after spending five years in the armed forces and qualified in 2015.  I worked initially with Staffordshire Youth Offending Service and as Emergency Duty Social Worker; then for the last 18 months as Child Exploitation co-ordinator. By observing first-hand, the negative experiences of children in the Criminal Justice system it became a passion to bring about culture change, achieving positive outcomes through the use of trauma informed practice and contextual safeguarding.

There are a number of aspects to this role that I love. Having the ability to recognise what areas of support are missing for children and how we can best make use of available resources that align with their own interests being just one. More and more, we are able to push the boundaries of what is achievable to protect our children and I feel privileged to be part of this.

The past 12 months have been hugely challenging for all, and undoubtedly, the immediate future will be equally so, but I acquiesce in the sense of satisfaction and pride I feel when I reflect back on developments made by all of us who work tirelessly to keep our children safe. There have been a significant number of children protected from exploitative behaviours, be that through Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) Panels, which I share co-ordinating responsibility or joint operations with Police colleagues. I look forward to developing these further. Contact me

Andrew Downing

Hi everyone I’m Andrew and I qualified as a social worker in 2013 and began my career working on one of the Throughcare teams within Staffordshire. During this time, I worked with children in the care of the local authority; many of whom had experience a number of adverse childhood experiences whilst growing up. I became passionate in attempting to build positive working relationships with these children, their carer’s and families and aiming to build upon their strengths and striving to improve their outcomes.  These are aspects which I believe are crucial to social work. Working with children on a longer term basis emphasised the need to develop positive working relationships and the importance of getting to know young people; gaining an understanding of what is important to them, what they value, what their lived experiences have been like and their goals and aspirations for the future. Within this role, I worked with a number of children who were at risk of or who had experienced exploitation and although this was challenging, I developed a keen interest in safeguarding these children and tried to expand my knowledge around contextual safeguarding.

In March 2020, I took up the role of Child Exploitation Co-ordinator within Staffordshire where I share responsibility for co-ordinating Staffordshire’s Multi Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) panels. These panels allow us to work collaboratively with partner agencies to provide support to young people and to explore strategies in preventing and disrupting exploitation. As part of my role as child exploitation co-ordinator, I also support other practitioners across the county in developing their knowledge and providing advice to them. Being in a role where I am able to play a part in helping to safeguard children, protecting them from exploitation and to try and make communities safer is a great privilege and one which I cherish.

Angela Davenhill

Hello, I’m Angela, I have worked for Stoke-on-Trent Children’s Social Care since 2003 following a change of direction as I had been to University to read English and had in my mind that I wanted to become a teacher. After a few changes of position within the service I was lucky enough to be seconded to complete my Social Work degree at Keele University and qualified in 2009.

I was then seconded in 2013 to Staffordshire Police’s Child Exploitation Team. I continued in my role as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) social worker and received a Commissioner’s Commendation for my work in relation to a CSE Operation which led to the arrest of a number of individuals. I am a CEOP Ambassador and although passionate about all aspects of Child Exploitation – the link to social media I find fascinating and an area that needs further development locally.

In the last 18 months my role has changed significantly as the focus in relation to Child Exploitation has widened – including Child Criminal Exploitation and Youth Violence. This has been a huge learning curve for me and has meant that a lot of my preconceptions have been rightly challenged. A further change has been that I am now known as the Child Exploitation and Missing Coordinator. I am responsible for the coordination of our fortnightly MACE Panels.

I feel a great sense of pride and responsibility attached to the work I do and are forever grateful to all of the professionals I work closely with which support me 100 percent.

Amy Grice

Hi all, my name is Amy Grice and I started my career as a social worker within Staffordshire when I qualified in 2001. I then progressed to a Senior Practitioner, Team Co-ordinator, Team Manager and have always working within the safeguarding service area of social work.  In 2015 I became the Specialist Safeguarding Development Manager still within Staffordshire and this is when her career became involved in more strategic safeguarding work and the specialist area of Child Exploitation.


Nigel Sargeant

Hello, I’m Nigel and I’m a former detective having served for 30 years with Staffordshire Police. I have worked within Local CID offices, Force Drugs unit, Covert Policing units conducting enquiries abroad, and whilst with the Major Investigation Department investigated the most serious of crimes including murder and offences against Children. Upon retiring from the Police in 2013, I managed a Commissioned Sexual Exploitation service within Stoke-on-Trent and three areas of Staffordshire. Until 2017 when Catch22 were awarded the commissioned service. I am now the Service Manager for Catch22, with overall responsibility for 30 staff who complete return home interviews for those children who have been previously reported missing from home to the police. The service provides support for children who have been identified as being at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation. I have a passion for developing and promoting Child Exploitation awareness in order to reduce the risks posed to children and to keep them safe.

Sarah Parker

Hi, My name is Sarah and I am an experienced teacher and trainer, having taught in London, Manchester and Staffordshire Schools for 16 years. I set up and ran one of the early Nightstop emergency accommodation projects for 16-25-year-olds in South Manchester and then worked as a trainer for family support and parenting programmes. I first worked with Catch22 as coordinator of the Volunteer Service in Stoke and Staffordshire, but I now work as Research and Development Officer with the Stoke & Staffordshire Missing and Child Exploitation Team and wider Catch22 Young People & Families Hub. I also co-chair the English Coalition for Runaway Children (a network of Missing Services in England) and am also chairing the NWG Policy Forum this year.

What our partners say

Miss Coleen Worrall, Director of Student Services, Designated Safeguarding Lead, Cannock Chase High School

“We find that making referrals is very easy and communication between panel and school is very good. As a school we feel very comfortable to have professional discussions regarding risk levels where there are differences of opinion.

Panel meetings are really well organised and timings are kept well, this is really helpful for schools as we can attend when required. It’s a really useful at the meetings to hear how other agencies are working with the young people and helps us to understand how we can support further to ensure we are doing all we can to safeguard our young people.

It’s sometimes not clear to schools why young people are spoken about at panel or not. I think it would benefit schools if we could have a brief overview about this and about the different sections in the panel meetings. Could this be a short reminder training session in the DSL briefings?”

More school comments:

” I attended the MACE panel held in January. The meeting was incredibly valuable giving me an insight into the issues affecting the local area, names and intelligence.  I was able to contribute to the discussions about other young people as well as presenting information on the student involved.  The advice and information given was inciteful, relevant and useful.  I cannot recommend schools’ involvement more”

“Being part of the MACE panel has been invaluable to us as a school.  The information about activity around the local area linked in with names of young people that our learners potentially associate with has meant that we can get in at the earliest opportunity and put the necessary support in place.  It has raised our awareness around the criminal activity/risky behaviour that our young people may be exposed to in the local area and has meant that we can be proactive in the steps that we take to try and prevent their involvement.”

Visit the website for more information about your MACE panel.