WORK to protect children experiencing sexual abuse within their families in York has been praised by watchdogs.

But inspectors said more needs to be done to reduce delays for children accessing mental health services and to help young people who display harmful sexual behaviour.

A team from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, the police and fire service and probation service investigated how organisations in York respond to incidents of sexual abuse within families.

The report said: “A strong, shared commitment to working in a child-focused way and listening to the voices of children and young people characterises the work of agencies in York.

“Children and young people who have suffered sexual abuse in a family environment have access to a good range of services.”

Inspectors said no child was at risk of harm, and when children were in danger, action was taken quickly by the council, police or health service.

But, inspectors raised concerns about staff turnover at the council, work to tackle harmful sexual behaviour and the “critical issue” of delays in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). They said work must be done to cut waiting times.

They added: “Timely access to therapeutic support is increasingly challenging in the face of rising need and a limited resource. For example, one child who suffered a very serious sexual assault had recently been referred for a therapeutic service but is having to wait three months before being able to join the waiting list for a service.”

Maxine Squire, interim corporate director of children’s services at York council, said: “The inspection has highlighted many strengths in our partnership working and I’d like to thank all the teams who continue to show immense commitment and dedication to working in this complex area of work.”