Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 6th June 2019

UK leads the way in improving online safety

As part of the Online Harms White Paper, a joint proposal from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office, a new statutory duty of care will be introduced to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of users online. Compliance will be overseen by an independent regulator which will enforce stringent new standards.

Under the new standards, social media firms must abide by a mandatory duty of care to protect users and will face tough penalties, including heavy fines, if they fail to protect them and tackle illegal and harmful activity on their services.

The regulator is to have effective enforcement tools. Government departments are consulting on the regulator’s powers which may include issuing substantial fines, blocking access to sites and potentially to impose liability on individual members of senior management.

In a statement Prime Minister Theresa May said “The internet can be brilliant at connecting people across the world – but for too long these companies have not done enough to protect users, especially children and young people, from harmful content. That is not good enough, and it is time to do things differently. We have listened to campaigners and parents, and are putting a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep people safe.”

The range of harms to be tackled as part of the Online Harms White Paper, include inciting violence and violent content, encouraging suicide, disinformation, cyber bullying and children accessing inappropriate material. There will also be stringent requirements for companies to take even tougher action to ensure they tackle terrorist and child sexual exploitation and abuse content.

The new proposed laws will apply to any company that allows users to share or discover user generated content or interact with each other online. This means a wide range of companies of all sizes are in scope, including social media platforms, file hosting sites, public discussion forums, messaging services, and search engines.

The introduction of the statutory duty will end the era of self regulation. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said “The tech giants and social media companies have a moral duty to protect the young people they profit from. Despite our repeated calls to action, harmful and illegal content – including child abuse and terrorism – is still too readily available online. That is why we are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all.”

A regulator will be appointed to enforce the new framework. The Government is now consulting on whether the regulator should be a new or existing body. The regulator will be funded by industry in the medium term, and the Government is exploring options such as an industry levy to put it on a sustainable footing.

A 12 week consultation on the proposals is underway which includes:

  • A new statutory ‘duty of care’ to make companies take more responsibility for the safety of their users and tackle harm caused by content or activity on their services.
  • Further stringent requirements on tech companies to ensure child abuse and terrorist content is not disseminated online. Giving a regulator the power to force social media platforms and others to publish annual transparency reports on the amount of harmful content on their platforms and what they are doing to address this.
  • Making companies respond to users’ complaints, and act to address them quickly.
  • Codes of practice, issued by the regulator, which could include measures such as requirements to minimise the spread of misleading and harmful disinformation with dedicated fact checkers, particularly during election periods.
  • A new “Safety by Design” framework to help companies incorporate online safety features in new apps and platforms from the start.
  • A media literacy strategy to equip people with the knowledge to recognise and deal with a range of deceptive and malicious behaviours online, including catfishing, grooming and extremism.

Alongside the White Paper, an updated version of the Digital Charter has also been published. The Digital Charter aims to protect citizens, increase public trust in new technologies and create the best possible basis on which the digital economy and society can thrive.

Off-rolling

New YouGov research, carried out for Ofsted, titled Off-rolling: exploring the issue reveals that a quarter of teachers have seen off-rolling taking place in their schools. The research also found that teachers felt parents need help to resist off-rolling pressure.

Men forced into marriage reaches seven-year high

New figures released by the UK Forced Marriage Unit reveal an increase in the number of men being forced into marriage. Overall the number of forced marriage cases rose by 47% in 2018 compared to the previous year, with 297 (the highest number reported in seven years) male victims. The unit statistics reveal they dealt with 1,764 cases in 2018.

These latest figures show that forced marriages, more commonly associated with vulnerable young women, is a significant problem for young British males too. Whilst most cases in 2018 involved a UK citizen being taken to a foreign country or marrying a foreign national, the statistics show that 7% of the latest cases were entirely domestic based.

The majority of forced marriage cases in the UK come from a South Asian background however, the new statistics show an increase of people from a Romanian background reporting the crime.

Whilst these latest statistics indicate a worrying increase the disturbing reality is that, due to the nature of this often unreported abuse, actual figures are likely to be higher.

Higgins conviction

Nearly 30 years after he was first accused and cleared of sexual abuse, Bob Higgins, former youth coach at Southampton Football Club, has been convicted of 45 counts of indecent assault.

As a consequence of scores of former players coming forward in 2016, the crimes of 66-year-old serial sex offender Higgins have finally caught up with him. A total of 87 people called the charity NSPCC dedicated phone line and and a further 32 contacted police directly with allegations relating to Southampton, all associating Higgins to the abuse.

Whilst being known as the “star maker” who was instrumental in the career development of high profile football players such as Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer, Higgins was also a ruthless, predatory paedophile, who used his position of power to groom and then abuse boys whose dreams of a playing career he could make or break.

The eight-week retrial, held after a previous jury at Winchester Crown Court could not reach verdicts on 48 counts of indecent assault, was told Higgins kept an open house at his homes in Camberley, Surrey, and later Southampton where he would let boys stay while they attended training sessions at weekends or during school holidays.

This allowed him to groom his victims. Sitting on the sofa at his home, he would demand cuddles from the boys and go on to touch them inappropriately. He would also use the pretext of treating injuries or performing soap-water massages to abuse youngsters at the club. Many youth players who were sexually assaulted by Higgins were left so distressed that they gave up football entirely.

Rumours about Higgins’s activities had circulated for years however, there was an implicit trade-off as boys knew they needed to keep quiet or risk losing their shot at a career as a footballer. Many said nothing, even to close family members, for up to 30 years.

Le Tissier told the BBC in 2016 he had been given a “naked massage” by Higgins. In the interview, Le Tissier said he was not abused but the incident was “very, very wrong”.

After more than a week of deliberation, the jury found Higgins guilty of dozens of offences. In a statement, Southampton FC said it noted the verdicts “with deep regret” and offered “sympathy and support to any player who suffered any kind of abuse or harm while under our care”.

Higgins is the latest in a string of high-profile prosecutions of former football coaches which include:

Barry Bennell, 64, being jailed in February 2018 for 30 years for sexual offences against junior players at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra

George Ormond, 62, who worked for Newcastle United’s youth team who was given a 20-year prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court in July 2018 for sex abuse offences spanning 25 years

Former Celtic youth coach James McCafferty, 77, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland who was jailed for six years and nine months at the High Court in Edinburgh on May 14 for 11 charges against 10 victims.

Michael ‘Kit’ Carson, who worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United, who died in a car crash on the first day of his trial at Peterborough Crown Court where he denied 13 charges.

Higgins was remanded in custody to be sentenced on a date to be set at Winchester Crown Court.

Work needed to tackle sexual harassment in public places

Sexual harassment is to be addressed within the cross-HM Government Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy. This is in response to a report, following an inquiry, on sexual harassment of women and girls in public places from the Women and Equalities Committee.

The committee Chair Maria Miller, MP Basingstoke, revealed they had “heard from a large number of women, from the police and other agencies as well as researchers, who told us that sexual harassment in public places pervades the lives of women and girls, whether it is cat-calling in the street, upskirting on public transport, misogynistic abuse online or sexual assault in pubs and clubs or at university”.

HM Government has responded positively to the report recommendations which makes a series of practical recommendations on issues such as data collection, women’s safety on public transport, and media regulation. The report also highlights that, although HM Government has recognised the racialised sexual harassment of black and ethnic minority women and girls, and of the ways in which sexual harassment intersects with other inequalities as an issue, a comprehensive programme of work in place for preventing and addressing the problem is not in place.

In response to the Committee’s findings, HM Government has fully accepted the report recommendations on:

  • data collection;
  • schools taking action in advance of statutory guidance coming into force in 2020;
  • research on underlying factors contributing to sexual harassment;
  • a review of hate crime, online spaces as a site for sexual harassment and the need for a gendered approach to online harm.

Also accepted in principle or partially are the Committee’s recommendations on:

  • the Ending VAWG strategy;
  • research on pornography;
  • the need for long term evaluated campaigns;
  • requiring public transport operators to have sexual harassment policies;
  • action to prohibit pornography displayed on public transport;
  • action to tackle sexual harassment to be embedded in alcohol strategy;
  • action by local authorities.

However, HM Government did not accept the Committee’s recommendations for:

  • social media to be included in the age of verification of pornographic website provision;
  • a law on image based sexual abuse;
  • evaluation of the Purple Flag scheme;
  • amendment to the Licensing Act;
  • action on sexual entertainment venues;
  • requiring universities to take action on student safety.


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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 23rd May 2019

Offensive Weapons

Last week the Offensive Weapons Act gained royal ascent. Part of the strategy to tackle serious crime, the Act introduces new measures such as knife crime restriction orders and gives the police the additional powers in seizing dangerous weapons. It also enables the courts to place restrictions on persons vulnerable to knife crime. The Act also makes it an offence to dispatch bladed items online without verifying the intended recipient is over 18.

Life sentence for Renshaw

(follow up from our bulletin article)

Jack Renshaw has been sentenced to life in prison following an investigation by Counter Terrorism Policing North West. Renshaw pleaded guilty to threatening to kill a police officer who was investigating him for sexual offences and a local MP.

Extraordinary tale of VIP Westminster paedophile ring

The trial of Carl Beech, the 51-year-old who claimed he was sexually abused by a VIP Westminster paedophile ring and to have witnessed child murders, has commenced at Newcastle Crown Court. Beech claimed that over a number of years he had witnessed three child murders, multiple rapes, kidnapping, false imprisonment and widespread sexual abuse.

Beech, who denies twelve counts of perverting the course of justice and one count of fraud, made allegations against high ranking officials which included Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan, the former head of the army Lord Bramall, former MP Harvey Proctor and the chiefs of MI5 and MI6. This led to the launch of Operation Midland, which included searches of the homes of Lord Brittan, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor.

Tony Badenoch QC, prosecuting, said Beech’s accusations against the powerful figures were among the “most heinous” that could be made. Lord Brittan, who had been battling cancer, died after his home was searched and the court heard how that all three men had suffered “immeasurable distress”, including the death of Lord Bramall’s wife whilst the file was still open. Following the closure of the £2m Operation Midland, Northumberland Police investigated Beech and discovered a number of his claims were “provably false”. Badenoch stated that Beech “had lied about the content of these allegations, taken active steps to embellish a false story, and then cover his tracks when challenged.”

Alesha MacPhail killer granted permission to appeal sentence

In a follow up to the article in our bulletin (11th April), the teenager convicted of raping and killing Alesha MacPhail has been granted permission to appeal against his life sentence.

As we reported, the 17-year-old Aaron Campbell was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years for the abduction and murder of the six-year-old whilst she was on holiday on the Isle of Bute last summer. Campbell abducted Alesha from her bed as she slept at her grandparents’ home in July last year and went on to inflict numerous injuries on the six-year-old before dumping her body in woods. A jury found him unanimously guilty following a nine-day trial and he later admitted to the crime.

Campbell has now been granted leave to appeal against this sentence, which was handed down by Lord Matthews at the High Court in Glasgow in March.

A hearing date has been set for 7 August at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Number of British paedophiles may be far higher than thought

In a speech made in London last week, the Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA), Lynne Owens revealed the number of Britons with a sexual interest in children may be seven times higher than previously thought. Previous estimates put the figure at 20,000 however, following an investigation which scoured through sites for paedophiles on the dark web, an estimated 144,000 accounts were linked to British people.

Whilst recognising that some individuals may have more than one account across several of these sites, Owens, said that in her professional judgment the number of paedophiles was much higher than law enforcement and government had realised. To back up this claim, Owens said: “I draw on two pieces of evidence. The first … is the 850% increase in referrals from industry since 2013. Then the second is this evidence we get from the dark web.”

Owens stated that every month measures were taken to make sure 400 children were safe from paedophiles, and 500 people were arrested in connection with a sexual interest in children. Some dark web sites require people to prove they have raped a child before they are allowed to enter.

Owens went on to state that the NCA and police had not been able to investigate all of the suspects even when the numbers were believed to be much lower, and that they did not have the resources to analyse all the accounts discovered on the dark web. She highlighted that industry must do more to block child abuse images and the live streaming of child abuse.

Preventative programmes warning children of the dangers are now aimed at 4-7-year-olds whose parents gave them tablet computers, whereas previously they were aimed at children aged eight years and over. Owens is calling for an additional £2.7bn over three years to boost the fight against serious and organised crime.

Operation Stovewood

As part of the ongoing Operation Stovewood investigation into the sexual abuse and exploitation of more than 1,500 children in the Rotherham, forty people have been arrested or interviewed in the last two months. Operation Stovewood is the largest investigation into non-familial CSAE (child sexual abuse and exploitation) ever undertaken in the UK.

The arrests and interviews relate to thirteen victims, aged between 11 and 26, for alleged offences taking place between 1997 and 2015. Thirty-eight men and two women from Sheffield, Rotherham, Leeds, Dewsbury and Maidstone were arrested or interviewed by appointment. All forty have been bailed or released under investigation.

The investigations began following a report by Professor Alexis Jay in 2014 which detailed the rape, grooming and trafficking of more than 1,400 children. This figure has now been updated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) to 1,523.

To date, under Operation Stovewood more than a dozen men have been jailed. In the most recent trial, seven men were convicted of abusing five girls between 1998 and 2005 and received sentences of up to 23 years. They were found guilty of charges including rape and aiding and abetting rape.

Other investigations into years of abuse of young girls in the town – Operation Clover and Operation Thunder, investigations previously undertaken in Rotherham, have seen more than 20 other men jailed in recent years. This included the trial of Arshid Hussain, one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls which include Sammy Woodhouse, who received a 35 –year sentence in 2016.

Half-term Break:

The safeguarding bulletin will be back on 5th June following half-term. We hope you have a good break.

Useful links:

Handbook for Ofsted inspectors on inspecting further education and skills providers under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

Guidance for Ofsted inspectors carrying out school inspections under section 8 of the Education Act 2005, for use from September 2019.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting non-association independent schools in England under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting registered early years and childcare providers under the education inspection framework, for use from September 2019.

The framework which sets out Ofsted’s inspection principles and the main judgements that inspectors make. It applies from September 2019.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:
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Please feel free to share our e-Bulletin. We are passionate about the role we play in safeguarding children and the more people that know about it the better. They can sign up to our Thursday safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 16th May 2019

Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

U-turn for DFE

In a dramatic U-turn, a DfE source has said the department is to issue further guidance on how Head Teachers should handle requests to withdraw pupils from sex education. The issue, as highlighted in our blog https://ssscpd.co.uk/news/ “Contentions of the new PSHE framework”, has meant HM Government ministers have come under increasing pressure to clarify the “exceptional circumstances” in which Head Teachers can refuse to allow pupils to be withdrawn from the lessons. Under the new system, due to be introduced in September next year, parents will have the right to request withdrawal until three terms before their child’s 16th birthday, and Head Teachers will be expected to accept their wishes unless they have a good reason.

We will keep you posted when the guidance is released.

New Ofsted guidance- inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings

On Tuesday Ofsted published new guidance for inspectors to use when inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings. The separate version of this guidance will come into force from 1st September 2019 alongside the new inspection framework.

The new handbook sets out what inspectors must consider when inspecting safeguarding. It outlines the evidence that inspectors will look for during inspections and sets out the judgements they will make.

In the interim period, inspectors will use the existing guidance.

Off-rolling: new research for Ofsted

New research carried out by YouGov for Ofsted on teachers’ awareness of, and views about off-rolling, was published last week. Off-rolling is the practice of removing a pupil from a school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion or by encouraging a parent to remove their child from the school roll, when the removal is primarily in the interests of the school rather than in the best interests of the pupil.

The survey, which examined the views of over 1,000 teaching professionals from primary and secondary schools across England, found a quarter of teachers participating in the study had seen off-rolling happen in their schools and two-thirds believe the practice is on the rise.

It also found that:

  • there is mixed understanding among teachers of what off-rolling is, but many teachers are aware that it is happening and believe that it is on the increase
  • teachers agree that it usually happens before GCSEs, either during years 10 to 11 before results are collected, or in year 9 before exam teaching begins
  • vulnerable students with special educational needs (SEN) or other needs are more likely to be affected
  • many teachers think there is an overlap between off-rolling and other, sometimes legitimate, practices

In response to the survey findings, Amanda Spielman (Ofsted Chief Inspector), said “These are troubling findings. While not every school is off-rolling, teachers tell us that some are clearly pushing vulnerable pupils out through the back door with little thought to their next steps and best interests. Ofsted takes a dim view of off-rolling.”

Final part of £100 million fund allocated to 18 police forces

Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced last week that the final part of the £100 million fund to tackle serious violence will be distributed to 18 police forces who are dealing with high levels of violent crime. The final £12.4 million is intended to enable these forces to take urgent action which includes having more officers on duty in the worst affected areas.

In a statement announcing details of the funding allocation, the Home Secretary said “I’ve been doing everything in my power to ensure we have the strongest possible response to tackle violent crime – and law enforcement plays a key role in this. It takes a collective effort to tackle violent crime and I’ll continue to work closely with police and partners to end this senseless bloodshed.”

The police forces receiving the funding are:

Police force Serious Violence Fund allocation
Metropolitan Police£20,840,000
West Midlands£7,620,000
Greater Manchester£4,800,000
Merseyside£4,200,000
West Yorkshire£4,020,000
South Yorkshire£2,580,000
Northumbria£2,320,000
Thames Valley£1,940,000
Lancashire£1,820,000
Essex£1,760,000
Avon and Somerset£1,720,000
Kent£1,660,000
Nottinghamshire£1,540,000
Leicestershire£1,400,000
Bedfordshire£1,380,000
Sussex£1,340,000
Hampshire£1,260,000
South Wales£1,200,000

The Home Office latest serious violence factsheet can be accessed at https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/03/03/fact-sheet-government-action-to-tackle-violent-crime/

New Domestic Abuse Policy

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced policy placing a legal duty on Local Authorities to provide refuges for victims fleeing domestic abuse. The duty to provide secure homes for victims and their children is being placed on all councils in a bid to end the postcode lottery victims currently face. According to the Domestic Abuse Report 2019: The Annual Audit, at present, 60% of Local Authority referrals are declined and two thirds of women escaping domestic abuse can only seek refuge outside their local area, distancing them away from possible family support networks.

The new legal duty focuses on the delivery of support, including secure housing, to survivors of domestic abuse and their children. A consultation has been launched to determine how much funding will be needed to support implementation and where it should be targeted. This will include talking to victims and survivors, as well as support organisations.

Announcing this new measure, the Prime Minister said “I’ve always vowed to leave no stone unturned in tackling domestic abuse – this abhorrent crime has no place in our country. Whoever you are, wherever you live and whatever the abuse you face, you will have access to the services you need to be safe.”

The most recent draft of the Domestic Abuse Bill will introduce the first statutory government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative non-physical abuse. The legislation will also establish a domestic abuse commissioner and prohibit the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in family courts.

The UK domestic violence helpline contact telephone number is 0808 2000 247.

CSE serious case review – Bradford

The new Chair of Bradford’s Safeguarding Children Board, Jane Booth, has announced a serious case review will be held into historical child sex abuse (CSE) in Bradford. The inquiry, which will commission an independent person to conduct the review, will examine how agencies in Bradford had responded to CSE in the past.

Following a case we reported on earlier this year (where nine men were jailed for raping and abusing two teenage girls living in a children’s home in Bradford), the new Chair has convened the review to look at how Bradford agencies have responded to CSE in the past. Booth stated: “We will hold agencies to account for the quality of the service they delivered and challenge them where their actions or inaction did not protect children.”

Adrian Farley, Executive Member for Children’s Services at Bradford Council, said the authority welcomed the review as an “important part of learning lessons of the past. We would be really keen to receive the findings and ensure lessons have been learned.”

No prohibition order for “spontaneous kiss”

Despite a teacher admitting that her actions were of a sexual nature, a Teaching Regulation Agency panel has decided that the allegation was not proven, allowing her to continue in the profession.

Rachel Clint, formerly Assistant Head Teacher at the private Merchant Taylor’s boys’ school in Liverpool, was filmed sitting on a sixth-form student’s knee and kissing him during a train journey.  The incident happened in May 2017 following a leavers’ drinks event for Year 13 students, where alcohol had been consumed. A photograph of the incident was sent to the school, resulting in Ms Clint’s suspension and dismissal almost a year later.

The Teaching Regulation Agency panel decided that her actions were not sexually motivated, stating that the evidence heard suggested “this was a spontaneous kiss which did not lead to any further intimacy.” The panel added that there was no pre-planning involved with the kiss or flirtatious or premeditated behaviour that would have provoked such an incident. Whilst recognising this behaviour could “damage the public’s perception of her and therefore bring the profession into disrepute” the panel decided the evidence given did not support imposing a prohibition order.

The Department for Education’s decision-maker, Dawn Dandy, accepted the TRA panel’s report and recommendation that this was an isolated incident and that it was “not necessary to impose a prohibition order in order to maintain public confidence in the profession”.

Updated JTAI guidance

Joint Targeted Area Inspections (JTAIs) guidance on the multi-agency response to child sexual abuse in the family environment has been published. JTAIs include a ‘deep dive’ investigation – an evaluation of children and young people’s experiences. The subjects change periodically to investigate different themes in detail, in this case, the response to children at risk of, or subject to, sexual abuse in the family environment.

Inspection reports for the following areas are published on the Ofsted reports website:

Derby City Council

City of York Council

Cornwall Council

Shropshire

London Borough of Islington

Bracknell Forest Borough Council

New Church law on reporting sexual abuse

In an Apostolic letter set to become Church law, Pope Francis has made it mandatory for Roman Catholic clergy to report cases of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups to the Church.

In the letter he clarifies that any sexual advance involving the use of power will now be considered abusive, sending a message to the Church hierarchy that no-one will be exempt from scrutiny.

The Pope, who promised in February to take concrete action to tackle abuse, states in the letter- “The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.”

The Pope’s decree introduces an obligation for clerics and Church officials to disclose, within 90 days to offices within Church dioceses, any allegations they may have heard. Previously, this had been left to each individual’s discretion. The decree also defines the covering-up of abuse as a specific category.

The offences are defined as:

  • Forcing someone, by violence or threat or through abuse of authority, to perform or submit to sexual acts;
  • Performing sexual acts with a minor or a vulnerable person;
  • Production, exhibition, possession or distribution of child pornography and the recruitment of or inducement of a minor or a vulnerable person to participate in pornographic exhibitions;

The guidelines further cover “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical [Church] investigations, whether administrative or penal, against a cleric or a religious” for sexual abuse.

The decree does not change the penalties for crimes committed.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:
e-bulletin@ssslearning.co.uk

Please feel free to share our e-Bulletin. We are passionate about the role we play in safeguarding children and the more people that know about it the better. They can sign up to our Thursday safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 9th May 2019

Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.

As you know we love to hear your feedback and wherever possible endeavour to incorporate your suggestions.

In response to a great suggestion this month we’ve added a new feature to our system which will allow admin users to receive an email when one of their users passes an assessment. We appreciate this is not a feature that everyone will want to use so, if you wish to activate you can turn the feature on in your admin dashboard. Simply, login to your admin dashboard (https://admin.ssscpd.co.uk), then select ‘Account Preferences’ and finally select the option at the bottom of the screen to receive assessment completion emails. You can switch this feature on and off as required.

New SEND Consultation

In December last year, the DfE announced an extra £250 million SEND funding is to be made available up to 2020. Now the DFE want your views on the future of the funding system.

In his speech this month to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the Education Secretary Damian Hinds launched a Call for Evidence on the funding arrangements for pupils with complex Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Hinds praised the work of schools, teachers and support workers for enabling those pupils to achieve great outcomes.

Recognising that over a quarter of a million pupils with the most complex needs have benefited from personalised Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) since 2014, the Education Secretary wants the views of schools and colleges on how to make funding arrangements for such pupils more effective.

Currently there are almost 120,000 pupils with EHCPs educated in mainstream schools and the number of pupils whose needs are being met in special schools has risen to over 112,000 in the last five years.

In his speech to conference, the Secretary of State stated his personal admiration for “the incredible work they (teachers) do to support children with special educational needs and disabilities” however acknowledged that such support needs investment to provide for the additional complexities and pressures it places on schools, colleges and alternative provision settings.

An additional £31.6 million has also been made available to train over six hundred new educational psychologists, recognising their expertise as a critical element in the assessment process and in identifying special educational needs. The call for evidence will run until 31st July 2019.

16-year-old found guilty of terrorist offences

This week a 16-year-old boy from Bradford (who cannot be named for legal reasons) was found guilty of terrorism and explosive offences following a trial at Leeds Crown Court. Guilty verdicts were returned for one offence contrary to Section 4 (1) of the Explosives Substance Act – making an explosive substance and three offences contrary to Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 – possessing a record of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of Terrorism.

The teenager first came to the notice of police in 2016 and a referral to Prevent was made in 2017. Despite the hard work of Prevent officers and other safeguarding professionals over an extended period, the boy’s behaviour continued to be of serious concern. Last summer the decision was made to arrest him. He was arrested by officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North East under terrorism legislation and charged on August 17, 2018.

In a search of his home, officers found a device constructed in line with instructions around the manufacture of a CO2 bomb, in his bedroom. The device was not fully completed and was not classed as viable. Analysis of the boy’s online activity showed extensive research around bomb-making, searches about attacks on Muslims and a wide range of videos showing death, mutilation and torture; evidence which clearly demonstrated his escalating interest in violence and extreme ideology.

Commenting on the case, the Head of Counter Terrorism Policing North East, Detective Chief Superintendent Martin Snowden, stated “This is a disturbing case of a teenager who developed an alarming interest in extremist ideology, violence, firearms and explosives. He has spent considerable time alone on the internet and has intentionally accessed the ‘dark web’. His fascination with violence and death is particularly concerning given his age and vulnerability. Despite extensive attempts to steer this boy away from the path of criminality, due to the progression of his behaviour, he was arrested and charged with serious offences.  His online searches combined with the manufacture of an explosive device had the potential to put the safety of others at risk and could not go unprosecuted.”

The teenager will be sentenced in June.

Schools, academies and colleges should follow their Local Authority’s Prevent Duty protocols if there are concerns / information about suspicious or terrorist activity. The police can be contacted in confidence on 0800 789 321 or online.

Our Prevent Duty training course is included in our Safeguarding Suite. If you are not a Suite or Prevent Duty course customer please click here for more information.

School exclusions

New legislative measures look likely for schools following the publication of the Timpson Review into school exclusion.

The review, set up last year due to concerns about the rising number of permanent exclusions, and variations in the exclusion rates for different groups of children, says that Head Teachers should beheld accountable for the pupils they exclude. The report reveals that there is great variation in the consequences of exclusion, where often the excluding school has no further involvement with excluded pupils’ educational future.

In an interview with the BBC about the report’s findings, former DfE minister Edward Timpson said that “78% of excluded children have SEND, deprivation or childhood need” and that often the knowledge schools have about these children is lost when they are transferred to alternative provision.

Timpson has also commented that he was not “confident every exclusion is legal, fair and reasonable”. The report recommends that HM Government should cut the number of fixed-term exclusions schools can give a pupil in a year. Currently, a pupil can be suspended for up to 45 days in an academic year. Whilst the review does not suggest a new maximum, it does say that the current limit on days should be reduced.

In a key recommendation, the report also states that exam results of excluded pupils should count in school league tables. Currently when schools exclude a pupil, they are handed over to the Local Authority, which becomes responsible. Excluded pupils’ results are not included in the excluding school’s rankings. It is thought this recommendation is included to tackle off-rolling, the process of excluding poorer-performing pupils to improve school league table rankings. The DfE has welcomed the review and agreed to all 30 recommendations in principle.

Honour killing

A new book has been published this month describing a family’s experience of honour killing. Written by the Norwegian-born investigative journalist Lene Wold, the book includes both victim and perpetrator accounts in an attempt to understand the perspectives and motivations for such action and its impact.

The book describes the story of a now 40-year-old woman Amina, an honour killing survivor. An honour killing was carried out on Amina’s elder sister Aisha and attempted on Amina, who was 13 at the time, by their father. Amina had revealed to her mother that she thought her sister was in a secret lesbian relationship. As a result, both girls were tied up and Aisha was shot dead. Despite being stabbed in the chest and a pistol being fired directly at her face, Amina survived the attack. Amina has been left with severe facial disfigurement including deep scars, one of which sliced through her eye, and the removal of parts of her chin.

In line with practice at the time in Jordan, where the honour violence took place, following the attack the survivor, Amina, was removed from the family home and kept in “administrative custody” imprisoned for 13 years to protect her. She was jailed whilst her father, who attempted to kill her and had killed her sister, remained free.

The book, written after five years of investigative journalism, uniquely also gives the perpetrator, Amina’s father’s account and rationale for his actions. At the age of 11 he was forced to undertake an honour killing – he killed his mother who had left the family due to domestic violence. This experience embedded his support for severe action to be taken against supposedly immoral behaviour which can include adultery, homosexuality, relationships outside the family culture or wearing Western clothing. Honour punishments are severe and include stoning, burning, drowning, shooting or poisoning.

Since the attack on Aisha and Amina, laws have changed regarding honour violence in Jordan. A fatwa was issued in 2016 declaring that honour killings are against Sharia Law, increasing the penalty to 15-years imprisonment for convicted perpetrators.

The book is a compelling account of how the code of shame governed the lives of this family as, despite the fatwa, it still continues to affect many today.

Inside An Honour Killing, by Lene Wold, is published by Greystone Books.

“Toxic Trio”

New quantitative analysis has been published by the office of the Children’s Commissioner showing the number of children in England living in households where “toxic trio” factors are affecting adults. The term “toxic trio” refers to the combination and interaction of domestic violence and abuse, parental substance misuse (drugs and alcohol) and parental mental health issues.

Releasing the statistics, the office of the Children’s Commissioner stated:

“We wanted to hear from children and give them the opportunity to talk about their experiences of living in households with mental health, parental substance misuse and domestic abuse.” These views are presented in the report “Are they shouting because of me?”

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 2nd May 2019

Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding e-Bulletin which will keep you up to date with the very latest safeguarding news.N


New PSHE education framework gets Upper House approval

Following a long debate, the House of Lords has given its backing to the new Health Education and Relationships Education (primary) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) aspects of PSHE education (secondary) which will be compulsory in all schools from 2020. Whilst the upper chamber gave approval to new government guidance a month after the proposed framework passed through the House of Commons, the debate has raised key issues around the complexity of implementing the new requirements. Click here to see our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston’s blog on the contentions and implications for practice.

Proposed new powers for monitoring school exclusions

Last week we reported former head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw’s views on exclusion. This week the Chair of the Parliamentary Education Committee, Robert Halfon (MP for Harlow), is urging HM Government to give Local Authorities extra powers to scrutinise school exclusions.

In a letter written to Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Halfon says this action is needed to help tackle knife crime and help promote early support to keep young people in mainstream education and deter them from knife crime. In line with the former Ofsted chief, Halfon highlights a “clear correlation between exclusions and knife crime”, citing young people not in mainstream education being at greater risk of becoming involved in gangs and other criminal activity. The new powers would help Local Authorities track disadvantaged young people with special needs as they pass through the education system.

Halfon has called for improved guidance to assist teachers supporting children at risk of exclusion and becoming involved in crime, together with improvements to the quality of alternative provision. Although the Department for Education has allocated £4m through the alternative provision innovation fund to improve standards, Halfon stated “we (the committee) are concerned that the department is not moving urgently enough to improve the quality of alternative provision. In a number of Local Authority areas in England, no state-maintained alternative provision place has been rated good or outstanding.”

The Education Committee has previously raised concerns about the quality of alternative provision and schools approaches to tackling knife crime in its July 2018 report Forgotten Children: Alternative Provision and the Scandal of Ever-increasing Exclusions. A government review on school exclusions is currently in process and is due to report findings later this year.

Girls’ gang involvement overlooked and failed by authorities

That’s the view of Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield who is to write to HM Government and Local Authorities, to call for a review into support provision for female gang members who, she states, are “not getting the help they need”. In a recent BBC interview on the Victoria Derbyshire programme, the Commissioner stated that half of children involved with gangs are girls and they “desperately need help to get out. So many are trapped with nowhere to go”. According to London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Sophie Linden, girls’ gang involvement often remains under the radar. They are often used to carry knives or drugs because they are less likely to be stopped by police. Girls are also sexually exploited by senior gang members.

In response the Local Government Association said “limited funding” meant Local Authorities have to prioritise those at immediate risk. “Councils are being forced to divert the limited funding they have left away from preventative work, including young offenders teams and youth work, into services to protect children who are at immediate risk of harm.”

Two-thirds of children in England assessed by Local Authorities as being involved in gangs are boys (66%) and one third girls (34%), figures analysed by the children’s commissioner’s office suggest. However, estimates from the Office for National Statistics suggest a higher figure – that as many as half may be girls. The Metropolitan Police Service’s gangs matrix database lists 3,000 male gang members known to the authorities in London with just 18 female gang members known.

Ofsted grades to be retained

HM Government released a report yesterday setting out the arguments and evidence for keeping Ofsted’s existing 4-point grading system in the proposed new inspection framework

Rise in alcohol and drug exclusions

A study compiled by the drugs policy think tank Volteface and drugs education charity Mentor has revealed that drug and alcohol-related exclusions in secondary schools have increased by 57% in the past five years. A far higher rate than any other reason for exclusion, the figures coincide with increased conviction rates among teenagers for involvement in selling class A drugs. The study, revealed exclusively to Sky News, warns that the increasing rate of exclusions has put Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) under “significant strain”.

Modern slavery

This week the Home Office has released an updated version of Victims of modern slavery- Competent Authority guidance.

Whilst this guidance is designed for staff in the Single Competent Authority to help them decide if a person is a victim of modern slavery, the document contains really interesting content which might be useful for you to use as a staff resource.

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Contentions of the new PSHE framework

Following a long debate, the House of Lords has given its backing to the new Health Education and Relationships Education (primary) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) aspects of PSHE education (secondary) which will be compulsory in all schools from 2020. Whilst the upper chamber gave approval to new government guidance a month after the proposed framework passed through the House of Commons, the debate has raised key issues around the complexity of implementing the new statutory requirements.

The new framework is designed to ensure PSHE delivery meets the current needs of children and young people and reflect the world they live in. As the new framework states, children and young people are “growing up in an increasingly complex world”, particularly online. As a former Local Authority PSHE strategic lead, I am in no doubt that children today are exposed to greater emerging potential dangers, particularly in contextual safeguarding scenarios, therefore the way we prepare them to meet these challenges does need to change. In essence we need to prepare them to understand the world around them and make good choices. All sounds reasonable, so where does the contention lie?

The new statutory guidance sets out the PSHE topics which legally schools must cover. (This will also now apply to academies and independent schools will also be expected to draw on the framework to guide their curriculum content). This content includes topic areas that may contradict with parental views / beliefs and this is where we have the first area of contention.

There can be no doubt the new framework fundamentally alters the relationship between the state and parents. Under the new legislation, parents will have the right to withdraw their children from SRE up to three terms before they are 16. At this point, if parents wish to continue withdrawing their child they must request to do so, a request that may be denied.

This brings us to the second area of contention. In such situations where withdrawal is requested, it will be the responsibility of the Head Teacher to decide if the child should receive SRE or support the parent’s request. Such decisions may conflict with parental or indeed the Head Teacher’s own personal views. Where this becomes problematic for me is that the guidance falls way short of offering Head Teachers support in this decision making process. As we’ve already seen in Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, the impact of decisions deemed unpopular can have a huge impact on the relationships between a school, parents and communities, no matter how sensitively managed. Both parliamentary houses have recognised the challenges the new withdrawal arrangements will bring but have not included a yardstick to assist and support Head Teachers making such decisions. In the Department for Education consultation process, 54% of respondents felt the guidance re the right to withdraw was not robust enough however, no changes were made to improve this content. The cynics amongst us may suspect the failure to address these concerns is to limit potential litigation cases against the DFE.

The next area of contention is one close to my heart- ensuring teaching skillsets can meet the challenge of delivering all aspects of the topics in the framework. The £6M fund allocated for teacher training is woefully inadequate. No other government department has allocated funding to support staff training or delivery of the new curriculum, which to me seems remiss. I know how heavily I relied upon health staff and other professionals in my practice.

Much emphasis is being placed upon learning from the early implementer pilot schools (who will be delivering the new curriculum from September this year). This will be informative, its always good to share best practice, but cannot and should not be relied upon to fully develop an implementation structure fit for all. Just as we differentiate for pupils, we must have an implementation structure with the same flexibility.

PSHE is a really challenging curriculum area to teach, some would argue given the breadth of topic areas one of the most difficult to teach well. Many years ago I conducted a research project examining the impact of PSHE teaching by comparing the outcomes of delivery where staff had bespoke training to a control group who delivered a spiral curriculum without bespoke training. Based on those findings I would argue that, if we are to have meaningful lessons that meet the framework’s desired outcomes, we must invest more in developing PSHE teaching skills not just subject knowledge. We need to enable teachers to teach this challenging subject well, particularly to SEND children.

This leads me to my final area of contention, that of inspection. The proposed new Ofsted inspection framework comes into force a full year before the new Health Education and Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education become compulsory, raising the question- how will inspection interpret delivery and judge outcomes? To date Ofsted have not committed to review the proposed inspection framework following the House of Lords decision, which is very worrying. I fear we may see a raft of contradictory judgements, similar to what happened when safeguarding became a limiting judgement, and nobody (including Ofsted) wants a repeat of that debacle.

To be absolutely clear, I highlight the above contentious areas not to undermine the move towards a new PSHE structure. For me, safeguarding the wellbeing of children and young people is paramount and these new statutory requirements do just that. But let’s be clear- we are introducing new measures, some of which bypass the parental right to direct their children’s values and upbringing, and in undertaking this these contentious areas will need to be addressed.

Sam Preston is Safeguarding Director at SSS Learning and a former Local Authority Strategy Manager for School Improvement. The House of Lords debate can be accessed here.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 25th April 2019

Welcome back! We hope you all enjoyed the Easter break, a great opportunity to recharge the batteries with the added bonus of such fabulous weather. Its been an exciting time here at SSS Learning with the launch of our new courses to support your ongoing CPD programme. Our new courses include:

If you are a suite customer you will have full free access to these courses from your administration dashboard. Non-suite customers can purchase through the above website links.

Also, as you may be aware, new laws introduced under the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 came into force this month so we’ve updated our Prevent Duty course to include the latest changes. The key highlights introduced are:

  • Increases in maximum sentences for terrorism offences;
  • Obtaining or viewing terrorist material over the internet is now an offence;
  • It is now illegal to recklessly express support for or publish images of flags, emblems or clothing in a way that suggests membership or support of a proscribed organisation. (The Home Secretary may proscribe an organisation if they believe it is concerned in terrorism, and it is proportionate to do. This means that the organisation commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes or encourages terrorism (including the unlawful glorification of terrorism) or is otherwise concerned in terrorism);
  • Entering or remaining in a designated area is now an offence. (The Act gives the Home Secretary the power to designate an area outside the UK to restrict UK nationals and residents from entering or remaining in that area. This power is subject to parliamentary approval);
  • Greater powers to enter & search the homes of convicted terrorists.

Click here to see the full list

In the news…

Serious Crime

In contradiction with the recent statement made in the House of Lords (previously reported in our newsletter), former Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned a committee of MPs that excluding children from school places them in “great danger of being drawn into crime”.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, part of a panel of witnesses who gave evidence to MPs, reflected on his own experience as a Head Teacher highlighting that better resources were needed for schools to support earlier intervention and reduce the number of exclusions. Giving evidence he stated that many children excluded from school have “difficult, often dysfunctional, chaotic homes” and spoke of the impact of exclusion saying it was a painful decision to make as it “sent negative messages to that youngster and their family about themselves”. Wilshaw was also stated that children may carry knives “for all sorts of different reasons including self-defence” and said that “if they had behaved well in school and had a pretty good record, there’s no reason why they should be excluded.” He also cautioned that many exclusions involve children with special educational needs and known difficulties, suggesting that Local Authorities should be able to track them through the key stages to make sure they “don’t fall through the net.”

The evidence session was convened to explore a possible link between the rise in exclusions and increase in knife crime. To date, this year there have been 41 fatal stabbings in England and Wales, 10 of whom were aged under the age of 20. Ministry of Justice statistics for 2018 show that 21% of students who committed a knife possession offence were excluded from school.

Scotland’s approach to tackling knife crime over the past decade has seen a cultural shift away from school exclusion. Will Linden, deputy director of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (who also gave evidence), highlighted the need to consider the “unintended consequences” of taking a young person off-roll as essential. In Glasgow there was only one permanent exclusion last year.

Reflecting on the witness evidence, our Safeguarding Director Sam Preston, commented “Clearly schools have to focus on risk management and often face the difficult safeguarding choice between protecting pupils and excluding children that might then face a more detrimental situation. Given the upward trajectory we have seen in all forms of youth serious violence in England and Wales we must develop a multi-faceted approach that acknowledges the dilemmas schools face over exclusion. Legislators need to think contextually, by really questioning the effectiveness of current early intervention processes, the methods used to prevent escalation into serious crime, together with how we enable young people to move out of such behaviours. Simply doing what we’ve always done or adding more of the same resources will not facilitate change.”

Council fined for GDPR breach

Newham Council has been fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sharing sensitive personal details about alleged gang members. The council was fined £145,000 after a Youth Offending Team manager forwarded an unredacted version of the Metropolitan Police “gangs matrix” database to council departments, Children’s and Education Services, the National Probation Service, the charity Fight for Peace and the Department for Work and Pensions. The unredacted database contained personal details including names, nicknames and addresses of over two hundred people. A photograph of a page from the unredacted database, which revealed the personal details of fifty people, later emerged on Snapchat. The incident was of particular concern to the ICO as the information was obtained by rival gang members and, following the breach, there was a series of serious gang violence which included victims named on the breached list. This included one named teenager who was shot and killed. Whilst the ICO report does not draw a direct link between the data breach and the violence it states that the incidents “are highly relevant to the nature and extent of the harm that could result if personal data of the type contained in the redacted database was not processed under strict controls”. The report is also critical of the council investigation into the breach, as no investigation report was produced and the investigation had failed to establish what had been done with the unredacted database.

In a statement, Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz apologised personally to the mother of the teenager who was killed following the data breach and stated “On behalf of Newham Council I accept the seriousness of the unredacted gangs matrix list being distributed on this single occasion in January 2017 and am sorry that it happened. While there were information sharing protocols in place at the time, clearly they could have been better. The council is committed to working with our trusted multi-agency partners to make Newham a child-centred borough where young people can feel safe and protected.”

The incident serves as a stark reminder to us all to ensure our staff remain GDPR aware and compliant with our information sharing policy and protocols.

Pupil mental health

A survey carried out by the National Education Union (NEU) has found that children as young as nine are talking about suicide. The poll of more than 8,670 school leaders, teachers and support staff reports an increase in pupil mental health difficulties which include anxiety, self-harming and talking about suicide. The survey cites increasing child poverty, “over-testing” and insufficient resources for supporting vulnerable pupils as impacting on pupils’ mental health and wellbeing. The survey shows that 64% of those polled also cited that the strain on external support services such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS), specialist SEND assessments and educational psychologist support as adding to support difficulties.

NEU joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said government policies on education and funding were contributing to a “growing crisis” for mental health. He also said “Teachers are also witnessing an increase in child poverty and its terrible effects, which can all too often impact negatively on mental health.”

The Department for Education has described children’s mental health as a “key priority” for HM Government. “We are investing more in mental health support – with an additional £2.3bn a year being spent by 2023/24. This means that by 2023/24 an extra 345,000 children and young people up the age of 25 will benefit from a range of services, including new support teams that will provide additional trained staff to work directly with schools and colleges.”

Ex-pupils raise £5000 to support banned teacher

A fundraising page has been set up by former pupils of St Columba’s College, St Albans to assist with the legal fees of former Assistant Deputy Headmaster, Dr Stephen Jones, who was banned for life from teaching for inappropriate relationships with three male pupils.

Dr Jones, who taught religious education and became Assistant Deputy Headmaster at the college, was dismissed without paid notice for gross misconduct in 2015 and barred from the profession by a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) panel in April this year. The complaints centred around concerns that Dr Jones had crossed professional boundaries in his interactions with the pupils.

Following consideration of the evidence presented the finding of the TRA report states “Dr Stephen Jones is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Dr Stephen Jones shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”

Dr Jones has a right of appeal to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court within 28 days from the date he is given notice of the order.

The fundraising page, which seeks to collect up to £10,000 to assist with Jones’ legal fees, has been set up by a group of students (anonymous) he formerly taught. The page, which currently has £5000 funds pledged, describes the barred teacher as an “amazing” man who “helped students find work after leaving the school, counselled students, assisted families in need, took students on amazing trips and retreats, and was always there for anyone who needed help”.

A statement released by the barrister representing the parents of one of the three pupils (the subject in the case known as “Pupil A”) said: “The parents of Pupil A are not alone. Other parents also gave compelling evidence of Dr Jones’ insidious hold on their children. He repeatedly took impressionable boys on unauthorised school trips without their parent’s consent or knowledge. He showered them with gifts and stayed with them in hotels. He controlled their thoughts and behaviour. Dr Jones continues to be a menace to every child. That is why he was banned from teaching for life by the Secretary of State.”

Head Teacher barred over safeguarding deficiencies

Peter Smalley, former Head Teacher of Southglade Primary School in Nottingham, has been barred from teaching for at least five years. A professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency found that Smalley did not provide staff with regular or effective safeguarding and child protection training, and did not have an adequate system in place to identify and record safeguarding and child protection issues. The deficiencies in safeguarding at the school contributed to a pupil not being identified as high risk early enough. The seven-year-old pupil (known as Pupil X) died away from school premises.

The panel heard that Smalley collaborated with another staff member to prepare a referral form for the pupil in September 2014 for an incident which happened in July that year. The referral was inaccurate and not approved by the teacher who wrote the original form, which was also missing.

Smalley admitted all the counts against him except that he had acted dishonestly in preparing the substitute referral form. The panel accepted this and cleared him of dishonesty however it held that the other matters amounted to unacceptable professional conduct that may bring the professional into disrepute.

Smalley, who implemented a safeguarding system led by a newly appointed learning mentor, was found to have instigated a system where there was a lack of feedback to concerns raised and from which staff members disengaged due to perceived and actual lack of support. The findings concluded: “If it had not been for those extensive systemic failures in Mr Smalley’s management of safeguarding issues the chance to intervene in Pupil X’s case would have been greatly increased. Pupil X would have been identified as high risk at a much earlier stage.”

The panel took into account Smalley’s good record as a teacher and his admission to the counts against him, recommending that he be allowed to apply for reinstatement as a teacher after a five-year period.

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 11th April 2019

Pioneering plans for internet safety

This week, HM Government announced plans to introduce pioneering laws for internet safety with the aim of protecting children online.

A new Online Harms White Paper proposes to introduce laws where online companies will face fines if they fail to adhere to a mandatory duty of care to protect users. This includes ending the sharing of content about child abuse or terrorism on their platforms. Under the proposed new statutory duty of care, online companies will be required to publish annual reports revealing the amount of harmful content on their platforms and how they have responded to such content.

A new regulatory body will be appointed to enforce measures such as issuing fines and blocking access to sites. It is also proposed the regulator would have the authority to impose liability on individual employees of the online companies.

In response to the introduction of the white paper, Anne Longfield (Children’s Commissioner for England who has campaigned for internet companies to be bound by such a statutory duty of care) said “Social media companies have spent too long ducking responsibility for the content they host online and ensuring those using their apps are the appropriate age. Any new regulator must have bite. Companies who fail in their responsibilities must face both significant financial penalties and a duty to publicly apologise for their actions and set out how they will prevent mistakes happening in the future.” 

We will keep you updated on the progress of the white paper.

Alesha MacPhail killer lodges appeal

Aaron Campbell, the teenager convicted of abducting, raping and murdering 6-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute, has lodged an appeal against the 27-year minimum sentence served on him.

Last July Campbell stated he went to Alesha’s father’s flat, where he had previously bought cannabis, with the intention of obtaining drugs. Campbell however took the opportunity to abduct the sleeping 6-year-old, stating in a pre-sentencing background report “All I thought about was killing her once I saw her.” The post-mortem examination recorded 117 injuries on Alesha’s body. Campbell was convicted by a unanimous verdict.

Following sentencing it was revealed that Campbell told a psychologist that 12 months prior to the murder he had thought about “doing something excessive” including rape and was “quite satisfied with the murder”. He also stated he was “mildly amused” that it took police two days to arrest him after the discovery of Alesha’s body and that he had to “zip his mouth”) to stop himself laughing during the trial.

Campbell, described by his mother as “addicted to gaming”, had from an early age posted disturbing footage on his YouTube channel. This included footage where he provided commentary on Slender Man clips, a game where a tall, faceless character lives in the woods and stalks children. Following his conviction YouTube has taken down the footage as “a mark of respect for Alesha and her family”. Other disturbing social media use included a 2017 Facebook Messenger chat where Campbell wrote “Might kill 1 day for the lifetime experience”.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service this week confirmed that Campbell, described by the trial judge (Lord Matthews) as a “cold, callous, calculating, remorseless and dangerous individual”, had lodged a notice of appeal against his sentence. Currently Campbell is being held at HM Young Offenders’ Institute Polmont until he turns 21 when he will then be transferred to the adult prison system. He will not be eligible for parole until 2045.

DfE faces legal action following suicide attempt

The mother of the daughter who tried to kill herself whilst in an isolation booth at a Kent academy is to take legal action against the Department for Education. Her daughter, who has autistic spectrum disorder and mental health problems, spent every school day in an isolation booth from mid January through to mid March, when the practice ceased following the intervention of lawyers. During this time the child had to remain silent and had no directed teaching. The girl took an overdose whilst in the isolation booth.

The unregulated use of isolation booths has been criticised in recent months. Unlike fixed-term exclusions, currently there is no automatic mechanism for schools or academies to report the level of isolations to their governing bodies. HM Government guidance states that isolation rooms should only be used for a “limited period” and that “use of isolation that prevents a child from leaving a room of their own free will should only be considered in exceptional circumstances”.

The legal firm are taking action against the DfE on behalf of the girl, and a pupil of another school, for failing to review its guidance to schools about the use of isolation.

Breck’s Last Game

The film Breck’s Last Game, an innovative collaboration between Leicestershire Police, Northamptonshire Police, Surrey Police and Essex Police, is now publicly available as teaching resource.

14-year-old Breck Bednar was murdered in 2014 by 18-year-old Lewis Daynes, someone he only knew through online gaming and had never met in person until he was eventually coerced to visit Daynes’s flat. Daynes was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison for Breck’s murder. The film, made with the active support of Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave (who appears in the film), raises the awareness of the dangers of online grooming among boys. It is designed to make young people think about who they are in contact with online. Highlighting how a young person can be groomed and manipulated online, become distanced and isolated from friends and family, its purpose is to “protect children now and in the future and to stop another family losing a child in this way”

The short film, which would be rated 15 if shown in cinemas, has references to grooming, coercive behaviour and violence and includes the real 999 call made to police by Daynes who murdered Breck. A resource pack designed to be delivered to secondary age pupils, developed with the support of the Breck Foundation, supports the film. It includes suggested lesson plans, fact sheets and supporting material and information.

Serious Youth Violence Summit

Following last week’s Serious Youth Violence Summit, it has been announced that youth sports projects are to be expanded to help tackle knife crime. The measure is one part of a renewed government commitment to use the sector to reach those young people most at risk. Schemes will be extended into areas affected by serious violence.

Suicide awareness and self harm

In case you missed it, new Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education guidance was published Feb 2019 which includes the teaching of emotional well being. The publication also includes guidance for teachers on the topics of suicide awareness and self harm.

The Safeguarding e-bulletin will be back following the Easter break on 25th April.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:
e-bulletin@ssslearning.co.uk

Please feel free to share our e-Bulletin. We are passionate about the role we play in safeguarding children and the more people that know about it the better. They can sign up to our Thursday safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here

Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 4th April 2019

No retrial for neo-Nazi terrorist

After a seven-week trial at the Old Bailey a jury was unable to reach a unanimous or majority verdict that Jack Renshaw, the 23-year-old from Lancashire convicted of planning a terrorist plot to murder Rosie Cooper MP, was an active member of the neo-Nazi group National Action, a banned group under anti-terror laws.

During a previous Old Bailey trial last year, Renshaw admitted planning a terrorist plot to murder the Labour MP Rosie Cooper with a 19in Gladius knife. He also pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill detective Victoria Henderson, a police officer involved in investigating him for sexual offences. Renshaw also planned to commit “suicide by cop” by advancing on armed police wearing a fake suicide vest in an attack he described as “white jihad”, a slogan used by National Action. He is due to be sentenced next month.

Previously Renshaw was convicted and jailed for 16 months last year for the grooming of two adolescent boys online for sex by using a fake Facebook profile and in a separate court case also received a three-year prison sentence when he was found guilty of stirring up racial hatred. He had called for the genocide of Jewish people.

Father pleads guilty to manslaughter of baby Alfie

The 30-year-old father who was due to stand trial for the murder of his baby son Alfie, has admitted the manslaughter of the four-month-old by violently shaking him. Alfie’s mother Caitlin McMichael found her child unconscious when she returned from a doctor’s appointment in September last year. Alfie, who was taken to hospital with significant traumatic head injuries, died two days later.

The court heard Sam Gildea had a history of involvement with mental health services and that blood samples taken the day after his son’s death showed traces of cocaine and cannabis in his system, consistent with recent use. Admitting to the offence described as an “act of deliberate and unlawful violence”, the court accepted the alternative count of manslaughter and sentenced Gildea to a term of 13 years.

Gildea, who had previously been subject to a domestic violence prevention order, also admitted to a charge of controlling or coercive behaviour towards Ms McMichael during their relationship. He received two additional years for this controlling behaviour, bringing his sentence to a total of 15 years with an extended licence period of four years to be served on his release.

Met failing to tackle online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases

An inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, and Fire and Rescue Services, has found that the Metropolitan Police Service is failing to effectively tackle online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases. Their report, based on an inspection of 34 cases involving online abuse and exploitation of children in October last year, found that 29 of them were either “inadequate” or “required improvement”. Failures were found to be so severe in 15 of the 34 cases that they were sent back to the force for review. Concerns included failure to follow child protection procedures and leaving children potentially at risk of harm.

Whilst the report found the Met had improved some areas of child protection practice, the force’s response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation had worsened since the previous 2017 inspection. The report states:

“We found that the current arrangements for investigating online cases involving indecent images of children and sexual exploitation are not working”

It also criticises the Met for the small size of its team investigating online abuse cases and examining digital devices, work which is blighted by backlogs and resource issues resulting in some devices being returned without being checked. The report does acknowledge that the Met has been “overwhelmed” by a surge in online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases. In some areas of London, officers are managing more than 100 registered sex offenders.

The report highlighted that the levels of cases dealt with by non-specialists “result in notably poorer outcomes than those that are dealt with by specialist teams”. The report concludes that “As a result, investigations may be poor, victim confidence undermined and safeguarding opportunities missed” and calls for the Met to review its responses to online cases of abuse and exploitation as a matter of urgency. Under a planned restructure, Basic Command Unit (BCU) Safeguarding Teams are to be introduced with each unit having a dedicated Superintendent Safeguarding Lead.

The inspectorate will revisit the service within the next 12 months to assess progress.

New legal duty to tackle knife crime- have your say

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has launched an eight-week consultation on the new proposed multi-agency public health duty for public sector workers which includes teachers, health workers and social workers. In a statement on addressing violent crime, the Home Secretary said:

“It’s essential that all public bodies work together to treat the root causes”.

The proposed public health approach, similar to those already in use in Scotland and Wales, is focused on the delivery of long and short-term solutions such as identifying the warning signs that a young person could be in danger of offending, becoming a victim or being groomed. This includes demonstrating worrying behaviour in the home, at school or presenting at A&E with a suspicious injury. The approach could also include organisations jointly funding early intervention services to improve their co-ordination.

If the findings from the 8-week consultation lead to the proposed model, legislation will be tabled to ensure professionals in health, education, police, social services, housing and the voluntary sector work together to make “targeted interventions” and are held accountable for preventing and tackling serious violence. If approved, the Home Office states that the new statutory duty will underpin the multi-agency approach detailed in The Serious Violence Strategy.

Initial commentary and feedback on the proposed model and introduction of the new statutory duty have, in the main, been positive but also cautions that the responsibility for solving knife crime should not solely rely on frontline staff. As the evidence we have recently reported through our bulletins indicates, there must also be a focus of developing resources to deal with the deeper causes that lead young people into serious crime. The success of the proposed public health model, designed to identify more young people at risk, will be reliant on all agencies having the capacity to respond effectively to this increase.

The consultation launch coincides with a series of HM Government summits this week, designed to gather the views of professionals from law enforcement, health, the voluntary sector and education. Young people with experience of living in communities impacted by serious violence will also contribute.

Police & MI5- Tackling the terror threat

“Britain is one of the safest and most prosperous countries in the world. Nonetheless, the complex challenges we and other countries face from terrorism and malign acts by foreign states are all too real. As we saw in Christchurch, attacks can happen at any time and in any place.”

Read the full statement by Andrew Parker DG MI5 and Cressida Dick Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Increased Poverty- a vulnerability indicator

Statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions show a record 2.9 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty after housing costs have been paid. The official statistics show that 70% of all poor children were in working families last year, up from 67% on the previous year, and that the face of child poverty is also getting younger with 53% of poor children aged under five.

The high cost of housing in the UK is taking more working families over the poverty line. Compared with 2010 figures, nearly a third more children (193,000) now live in meagre circumstances due to spiralling rents and mortgage costs.

The National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, is calling for HM Government to urgently invest more money in social housing. In a statement, Chief Executive Kate Henderson said:

“Year after year hundreds of thousands more hard-working families are falling into poverty – forced to choose between feeding and clothing their children, or providing a roof over their heads. The lack of affordable homes is exacerbating in-work poverty.”

Police officers to be placed in London schools

Last week the Metropolitan Police revealed their ambition to place nearly 600 officers to work in London schools. Reporting to a HM Government inquiry into knife crime, the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons told MPs:

“We need young people to see the police not just as the person who stops them in the street and searches them… but also as someone who can become familiar to them, who can be approachable, who can engage with them day to day within school.”

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Safeguarding e-Bulletin – 28th March 2019

National Education Union Secretary suspended

A teaching union representative has said that it is better that one child is stabbed than to have schools erect knife detector arches. In response to an announcement re plans to introduce knife arches and detecting wands in schools made by an East London council borough, Redbridge National Education Union joint divisional secretary Kash Malik stated (in an interview with the Ilford Recorder and confirmed to the Tes) “Knife arches are not the answer. I have never been in favour of them and schools shouldn’t have to worry about it, it should be an environment where you should be focusing on studying.” Malik went on to say “It is better to have one child stabbed at school than to have an environment where no one is stabbed at school and everyone carries knives outside of school.”

Malik’s argument that knife arches would “normalise carrying knives except at school” and comments have been met with much criticism on social media. Sean Harford, HMI and National Director, Education of Ofsted tweeted:

Our Safeguarding Director, Sam Preston, also contributed questioning “Where is the evidence base that introducing arches & wands in schools would increase the number of incidents elsewhere or that more knives would be carried? Let’s look at why children are carrying knives – sometimes it’s because they don’t feel safe – and work to change the culture.

Following his much-publicised comments, the National Education Union (NEU) has suspended Malik. Fewer than half of London’s secondary schools and FE colleges have taken up the Mayor of London’s offer of free knife-detecting wands, indicating that the strategy of such equipment as part of safeguarding strategies is still a subject for debate.

Lessons from London

Following on from the blog by our Safeguarding Director (We know what works, we need capacity now, 13/03/19) Mike Sheridan, Ofsted’s regional director for London, has said that too few schools are brought around the table to deal with knife crime. Sheridan’s statement follows the publication of Ofsted research, which looked at how children are protected from knife violence in school and taught to be safe outside school settings.

The research findings, based on survey responses from over 100 secondary schools, colleges and pupil referral units across London, found that stronger multi-agency partnerships are needed to support schools to deal with knife crime and to iron out inconsistencies in the approach to counter the complex societal problems which lie behind the rise in knife crime.

The report also identified that no single body has a clear grasp of “managed moves”, a process which involves moving pupils who carry knives to other mainstream schools or pupil referral units. In order to help monitor this process, the report calls for the DfE to collect and publish data to evaluate what happens to these children, if the process keeps them safe and to measure their educational outcomes.

Whilst identifying that the valuable role schools, academies and colleges can play in local partnerships is not being realised, the report falls short from identifying how capacity issues to enable this participation by staff from educational settings may be achieved.

Serious Violence Summit

Yesterday in the House of Commons Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a Serious Violence Summit will convene next Monday to gather evidence, which will then be examined in a series of round table discussions, to develop the Serious Crime Strategy. We will be following and reporting on the outcomes from the summit and subsequent discussions.

Contextual Safeguarding – is our Child Protection system fit for purpose?

As promised in last week’s bulletin, we are keeping you up-to-date with evidence presented to the Home Affairs Committee on subject of serious violence. This month, Dr Carlene Firmin (MBE Principal Research Fellow at University of Bedfordshire), Dr Simon Harding (Professor in Criminology University of West London) and Junior Smart (Business Development Manager at St Giles Trust) gave evidence outlining their thoughts on the increase in serious violence in the last few years.

The panel heard evidence highlighting the intersecting factors thought to be responsible for the escalation in serious violence and gang membership which included the lack of resource to respond, the loss of youth services as community guardians (which also impacts on safe spaces for young people) and contextual safeguarding which places young people at risk of exposure to violence. The evidence presented identified the different forms of serious violence now experienced clearly as child protection issues however, it highlighted the failings of using the current child protection system which is designed to deal with abuse within families not outside family situations. The current child protection system has not been resourced or equipped to cope with contextual safeguarding and manage or protect children.

In 2007-09, following an increase in knife crimes and shootings, children were moved out of urban spaces into care placements in rural counties. Many of these rural areas were, and still aren’t, equipped to manage and support the relocated children who have been groomed into violence. It is also pertinent to question if this relocation model has contributed to the phenomena known as “County lines”, as many are relocated within easy travelling distance to their original areas and, with access to mobile and social media networks, remain in contact with those putting them at risk.

It is clear that the current safeguarding framework is ill equipped to adequately support teenage children and that the “referring in” system simply isn’t working. Current assessment processes do not adequately access or reflect the child’s lifestyle and way of thinking e.g. evolution into gang culture, and referrals are compromised by secure family assessments. The result is that vulnerable children who have such secure family assessments do not meet thresholds for intervention and, because of this, there is no process to resolve the contextual risks of exposure to abuse and involvement in serious / violent crime.

We are featuring a blog on gang evolution in next week’s bulletin and will continue to keep you up-to-date with the further evidence presented to the committee in future bulletins.

Cuckooing

Cuckooing, closely linked to the phenomenon of County Lines (where gang members, or vulnerable people under their control, cross the border of their county into another county with the intention of selling drugs). It is a relatively new term used to describe how criminal gangs target the most isolated, vulnerable members of a community, befriending them with the intention of taking over their homes to create bases to deal drugs and carry out other criminal activities. There is no age limit to those being targeted however, older adults that are socially isolated can become easy targets with tactics of befriending, moving in and then taking over.

Cuckooing can take on many forms. Common used tactics are:

  • To befriend a socially isolated older person who lives alone with no family or friend support network. The older person is made to believe they have gained a friend who they then allow to stay at their home. They don’t realise that drug dealing activity is taking place or that they are being taken advantage of;
  • Where a female befriends a vulnerable male to become their “girlfriend” and then introduces “friends” into the vulnerable adult’s home, where drug dealing activity then takes place. The so called “girlfriend” may be a victim of exploitation used by the drug dealing gang;
  • Targeting a vulnerable person and supplying them with drugs to build up a debt they cannot repay enabling exploitation, threatening behaviour and violence. The vulnerable person becomes too frightened to seek help whilst their home is used by the gang.

Cuckooing is an exploitative practice directed at the most vulnerable in society which can also include current and ex drug users, socially isolated individuals, those with mental health difficulties, physical or learning disabilities. 

Local Authority rated “inadequate” due to Child Protection concerns

A damning Ofsted report has downgraded Stoke-on-Trent Local Authority Children’s Services to “inadequate” citing that “poor leadership” is failing to protect children.

Downgraded for overall effectiveness due to a raft of child protection failures during an inspection in February, the report specified that leadership, support for children in need of help and protection and support for care leavers and children in care were all inadequate with ineffective management of risk and thresholds not being consistently applied. Inspectors warned that “vulnerable children are not safeguarded in Stoke-on-Trent”.

The lack of foster placements was a particular area of concern with 56 children at the time of the inspection being placed in unregulated placements, some of which had not been fully assessed or approved by the authority and were known to be “unsafe”. Inspectors found that the rationale and management decisions of such placements were “missing from all children’s case records.” 

Previously rated “requires improvement” in 2015, and despite a focused visit in 2018 which highlighted concerns about high social worker caseloads and the quality of record keeping, this latest Ofsted inspection found that most of its recommendations had not been acted upon stating “Children are not being protected, and they experience serious and widespread delays in having their needs met across children’s services.”

In a Local Authority response to the report findings, leader Ann James said they ” take the ruling by Ofsted extremely seriously and are very concerned by the findings. It means that our practices are not robust enough to provide the best protection to meet the needs of our city’s vulnerable young people. This is unacceptable and we are committed to improving our service at pace for our children.”

#selfharm

Despite the widespread criticism of Instagram following the sad case of Molly Russell, the 14-year-old who took her own life after viewing self-harm images, a BBC investigation has found further evidence of children swapping graphic images of weight loss and advice on how to make their illnesses more extreme.

The BBC investigation found posts, hashtags, images and search terms promoting and glamorising eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia to be common on Instagram despite the platform, which is owned by Facebook, stating they were committed to removing all graphic self-harm images. In a statement Instagram said it does not allow content encouraging or promoting eating disorders and removes it when aware.

NHS Digital data shows a rise of more than 130% in those aged 19 and under suffering from eating disorders being admitted to hospital in England since 2011. In 2018 there were more than 2,000 admissions for children aged 15 or under – an increase of 163% on 2011 admissions.

In addition, on this subject, Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield recently tweeted: “In February, we searched Instagram using #selfharm and it brought up 640,000 results. Today the same search brings up 700,000 results.

It is clear that despite concerns and commitment to action, this issue is spiralling with vulnerable young people finding peer groups supporting their behaviour online. Together with warning young people and reinforcing the message that this is a form of online abuse, we can also safeguard children by recognising some of the signs of an eating disorder. The charity Beat recommends being mindful of behaviours which can include:

  • becoming obsessive about food
  • changes in behaviour
  • distorted belief about their body size
  • being often tired or struggling to concentrate
  • disappearing to the toilet after meals/ eating
  • starting / maintaining an excessive exercise regime

Safeguarding – holiday / ‘after hours’ provision

In the run up to Easter holidays when children may be accessing sports and other activities clubs, it’s very tempting to assume they meet safeguarding standards. But much publicised cases e.g. football coach Barry Bennell, tennis coach Daniel Sanders have shown that even clubs governed by national organisations can fail to meet statutory and best practice standards.

So, if your school / academy is contracting holiday activity provision, or looking to extend your after-school club provision, robust service level agreement checks are essential. Click here to see the 6 key things to consider before entering into contractual arrangements.

Welsh Government plans to ban smacking

The Welsh government plans to introduce a new ban on smacking children by ending the legal defence of “reasonable punishment” which may be currently used to counter common assault charges.

Currently it is illegal to hit a child in England and Wales however, parents or persons acting as parents have a legal defence that allows them to cite reasonable force unless the physical punishment leaves a mark on the child or if the child is hit with an implement. The introduction of the ban follows research published by the Welsh government in 2018 which found that 81% of parents disagreed it was sometimes necessary to smack a “naughty” child.

The Bill is due to be presented to the National Assembly and, following scrutiny by the Children and Young People’s Committee, findings will be debated by the full Assembly. If passed by the Assembly, the Bill could be still be halted though by referral to the Supreme Court or if the Secretary of State for Wales bans it being sent for Royal Assent.

Please do let us know what you think of the e-Bulletin:
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Please feel free to share our e-Bulletin. We are passionate about the role we play in safeguarding children and the more people that know about it the better. They can sign up to our Thursday safeguarding e-Bulletin by clicking here.

Here are the relevant online courses we provide that relate to this article:

To find out about our Safeguarding Suite click here